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Russian Orthodox Christians celebrate Epiphany by jumping into freezing water

People believe that dipping into blessed waters during the holiday of Epiphany strengthens their spirit and body.

Viktor Drachev / AFP - Getty Images

Belarus soldiers plunge into the ice cold water to mark Orthodox Epiphany near the town Pukhovichi, some 70 km south of the capital Minsk, on Jan. 19, 2012.

For some reason, I never get tired of looking at images of people jumping into ice water - it's got to be such a shocking experience.  I've been in water so cold that I literally couldn't speak, but even it wasn't this cold.

Anatoly Maltsev / EPA

A Russian Orthodox church believer takes a dip in the ice cold water marking Epiphany church holiday outside St.Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 19, 2012.

Denis Sinyakov / Reuters

An Orthodox priest walks near a bathing hole made for Epiphany celebrations in a pond in Moscow's Kolomenskoe Park Jan. 19, 2012.

See more Epiphany images in PhotoBlog.