Along with Easter, Epiphany is one of the oldest Christian holidays, celebrated by Orthodox Christians in Russia during the night of January 18. The traditional rite of mass bathing is performed on the Epiphany to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ in the waters of the Jordan River.
According to Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM), more than 2 million Russian citizens took part in Epiphany bathing in 2016. This year, about 4,000 places were equipped for the rite, which takes place throughout the country, in large cities and small villages alike. In Russia's Far East, people bathe in the Pacific Ocean, where the temperature is below zero. In Yakutia, even a minus 40-degree frost doesn't stop them from bathing. There are special tents set next to every ice-hole in order for people to warm up, change clothes and have a cup of hot tea after taking the icy plunge.