In pictures: Russian Christians plunge into icy water to mark Epiphany

Russian Orthodox Christians dipped into icy waters on Tuesday to mark the eve of Epiphany, ending their 12-day Christmas period.

Most people take the plunge at midnight or on the day of the feast itself, which falls on January 19.

But some were seen braving the ritual the day before Epiphany, submerging themselves into holes carved into ice to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ.

“Our ancestors have been always dipping into water on this holiday,” said Anton Maevsky, after emerging from an ice hole.

In Yekaterinburg, authorities were limiting the number of people around the holes to 40, for safety reasons.

Not all Orthodox Christian churches celebrate Epiphany on the same day.

Unlike Russia, Ukraine and Serbia, which celebrate on January 19, the churches in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania mark the feast on January 6.

Some Western Christian churches celebrate the religious holiday as Three Kings’ Day, which marks the visit of the Magi, or Three Wise Men, to Baby Jesus.

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