Russian Orthodox Christians braved freezing temperatures as they plunged into icy water to celebrate the Epiphany. Special cross-shaped holes were cut into the thick ice covering rivers and lakes, with wooden steps leading into the water.

The age-old ritual commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, or the Epiphany, which the Russian Orthodox Church marks on 19 January.

Traditionally, the celebration starts the night before. By bathing on this day, believers symbolically wash away their sins.

Orthodox Epiphany
A girl reacts as her father immerses her in an ice hole in the Chulym river, with the air temperature at about minus 12 degrees Celsius (10.4 degrees Fahrenheit), near Nazarovo, Krasnoyarsk region, RussiaIlya Naymushin/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man reacts as he immerses himself in an ice hole in the Moskva river on the outskirts of MoscowMaxim Shemetov/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
People take a dip in cross-shaped ice hole in Kiev, UkraineGleb Garanich/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man crosses himself as he takes a dip into a cross-shaped pool cut into thick ice covering a lake near the village of Sretinka, KyrgyzstanVyacheslav Oseledko/AFP
Orthodox Epiphany
A man crosses himself as he takes a dip into the icy waters of a lake as part of celebrations for Epiphany, near the village of Pilnitsa, north east of Minsk, BelarusVasily Fedosenko/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man jumps into an ice hole in the Sea of Japan's Amur Bay, in Vladivostok, far eastern Russia, at a temperature of about minus 7 CelsiusYuri Maltsev/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
An Orthodox believer dips into the icy waters of a pond in MoscowVasily Maximov/AFP
Orthodox Epiphany
A man plunges into an ice hole in the Moskva river during celebrations for Russian Orthodox Epiphany on the outskirts of MoscowMaxim Shemetov/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man and a child immerse themselves in an ice hole in a pond near the Ostankino television tower in MoscowMaxim Zmeyev/Reuters
epiphany
People bathe in a hole cut into a frozen lake to celebrate Russian Orthodox Epiphany in Vilnius, LithuaniaPetras Malukas/AFP
Orthodox Epiphany
Orthodox Christians take a dip in the icy waters of a lake near the village of Sretinka, near Bishkek, KyrgyzstanVyacheslav Oseledko/AFP
Orthodox Epiphany
A man swims in a cross cut out of ice covering a lake in Minsk, BelarusVasily Fedosenko/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man jumps into an ice hole icy waters during celebrations for Orthodox Epiphany in Donetsk, eastern UkraineAlexander Ermochenko/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
Servicemen of the Belarussian Interior Ministry's special unit wait in a queue to dip into the icy waters of a lake near the village of Zadomlia, east of MinskVasily Fedosenko/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man bathes in the icy water of the Bolshaya Almatinka river during an Epiphany celebration in Almaty, KazakhstanShamil Zhumatov/Reuters
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Believers jump from the bridge to catch a cross thrown into the river in Podgorica, MontenegroStevo Vasiljevic/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
Men tussle over a cross thrown by the Archbishop into the freezing waters of the river Vardar in Skopje, MacedoniaRobert Atanasovski/AFP
Orthodox Epiphany
A man holds a cross he retrieved from the water during Epiphany Day celebrations in Prijedor, BosniaDado Ruvic/Reuters
Orthodox Epiphany
A man splashes cold water on other men before they swim for a wooden cross on Epiphany Day in Belgrade, Serbia. Orthodox priests throughout the region bless the waters by throwing a cross into it. It is believed that catching the cross brings health and prosperityDjordje Kojadinovic/Reuters