Ukrainian Orthodox believers take icy plunge on Epiphany day

Holy Water

Can you imagine the feeling of a burning skin but not from fire?

The feeling when it seems that for several seconds you stop breathing and you lose your body.

I mean you still have it, but you do not completely feel your body parts.

It’s all about first impressions of dipping into the icy water in winter!

But why do that with yourself? You probably ask at once.

Well, yet the hardy Slavs, particularly

Ukrainians and Russians, practice this ritual each year on the Orthodox holiday – Epiphany.

On the January 19, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus Christ.

A cross-shaped hole is cut in the river or in the lake which is called Jordan.

At midnight priests consecrate the water in the ice-hole, and the believers may start bathing in the consecrated water.

As the Bible tells us that on this day the Son of God was baptized in the waters of the Jordan River.

And any water on this day is considered to be healing and miraculous.

You may not believe but despite the icy water in the freezing temperatures no one has ever got sick after the ritual!

Whole families including children do it in the rivers, lakes, outdoor swimming pools etc. every year.

Crazy Orthodox Ice Bucket Challenge


Epiphany hole cut in the lake Telbin in the left bank district of Kiev

What happens to the human body during the contact with the cold icy water?

While plunging into the icy water with a head, the water instantly awakens the central nervous part of the brain, and we know that the brain heals the body.

A momentary effect of low and ultra-low temperatures is perceived by the body as a positive stress: it reduces inflammation, pain, swelling, spasms.

Our body is wrapped by the air, the thermal conductivity of which is 28 times less than the thermal conductivity of water. This is the main trick of hardening in cold water.

Cold water releases deep strengths of the body, the body temperature after contact with it reaches 40º, enough to kill off viruses, bacteria, and diseased cells.

BestKievGuide tried Epiphany bathing for the first time this year!

My impressions you’ve read at the beginning of the article and can watch on my YouTube channel.

And my advice is – try it!

Try at least once in your life! It’s really worth it!


I am Victoria - a passionate Kiev tour guide. Proud to be a Ukrainian, deeply interested in the history and traditions of my native country, love the Ukrainians, and happy to share my knowledge with my tourists.

Posted in Ukrainian traditions and culture Tagged with: , ,
2 comments on “Ukrainian Orthodox believers take icy plunge on Epiphany day
  1. Austin Strayhorn says:

    Actually, it’s a well-known fact that cold water immersion activates the body’s natural healing powers. Moreover, when practiced on a regular basis, cold water immersion can even provide long-lasting changes to the body’s lymphatic, digestive and circulatory systems that enhance the overall quality of your life.

    • Victoria says:

      Hi, Austin
      I agree with you! I myself started cold water plunging 2 years ago, and I must confess, the emotions after the diving into icy water are awesome!

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