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Cleansing and endurance: 35 thousand residents of St. Petersburg went for an ice-water plunge on Epiphany


Thin ice didn’t deter those willing to take a plunge into the ice hole. There were more than 20 official holes set up in the city.


Even according to rough estimates, up to 35 thousand residents of St. Petersburg took part in Epiphany ice-water plunge. The majority of them came to ice holes on Sunday night. Although, even during the day people kept coming in. Mariya Marchenko with a report on how the city marked the Epiphany.

No tie, only a swimsuit. The first such appearance in public of deputy Andrey Anokhin and Speaker of the Legislative Council Vyacheslav Makarov. The politicians took a brave step to take a plunge into the main ice hole by the Petropavlovskaya Fortress. The believe that the water washes away all sins and boosts one’s health for the entire year.

Mikhail Abramchuk, specialist of the youth policy committee: “I’ve been doing this since the age of 12 and haven’t got sick since then. I also feel much lifted spiritually”.

Being overly excited, the believers forgot that it is strictly forbidden to swim by the Petropavlovskaya Fortress in the summer. But, they say, today is a special occasion. The water was blessed by metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga Varsonofiy. Now the waters of the Neva will only bring positive results.

The ice is thin – only 15 centimeters, that’s why safety measures have been unprecedented. Only one person at a time walks down a wooden path to the ice hole. Divers help while in the water, doctors are on duty outside. A heart may not be able to take a sharp difference in temperatures or strong emotions. 

Alexander Radko, head of Emergency Services center in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region: “Yesterday there was an incident when a woman fainted. But all was well in the end. There are not too many incidents on Epiphany usually”

22 ice holes were set up in St. Petersburg. Although skeptics say there had never been a tradition in Russia to take an ice water plunge, it’s a trend of modern days. Priests respond – the staircase at the Hermitage was not called Jordanian for no reason. During the Tsarist times, the cross-carrying procedure used it to go down to the ice in the Neva. Today, to mark that, a dome was set up today by the Jordanian ravelin – just like in 1916

Petr Mukhin, archpriest of Smolnyi cathedral temple: “If a man comes with faith, he gets joy. If he brings joy then love is awakening. What’s bad about it?”

Last night and today, 35 thousand residents took a dive into the icy waters. Some came prepared, for some it happened spontaneously – thanks to friends and colleagues. For others, taking a dive like this is the reason to boast one’s heroics on social media.

Mariya Marchenko, reporter: “Last year, despite the freezing weather, more than 15 thousand people came here to the Petropavlovskaya Fortress. This time the water is warmer by 2 degrees, that’s why organizers are sure – that record will be beaten”