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Winter Russian traditions: jump into the ice hole on Epiphany day

a person sitting on top of a snow covered field

Secular and religious, holidays bring joy, delicious food and good reason to see your family and friends. After New year and Christmas it gets a little tough since everybody is a little concerned about having a way too idle lifestyle (as well as an overweight). It’s time to take Indiana Jones as a role model and find a treasure in your own garage: a pair of ski. Still, it seems it is a bit long to wait for spring coming, so here comes another holiday which could be called Russian tradition- the Epiphany.

The Epiphany

The Epiphany is a religious feast established in memory of the events connected with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.
At the Epiphany day, one should visit the church. There is a rare opportunity to be part of the festive divine services, such as the communion with the baptismal water. On the night of Epiphany from the 18th to the 19th of January, the All-Night Vigil passes into the morning liturgy, which is an extremely touching and beautiful ceremony.
At this moment you should see already that life is nothing but bliss, but if not – there is a way to shake you up.
After the festive service, on the night of January 19, the main rites on the Epiphany takes place which is bathing in the ice hole. It is believed that plunging into the hole on January 19 gives the strength and health for the whole year. The strength of your voice, at least. And it is quite possible you are going to believe in God the moment you touch the freezing water. The best time for the bathing is the night time before 01:30. At this time the water is considered to have the healing properties.
If one doesn’t have the opportunity to bathe in the ice hole at night, it is possible to do it any other time on January 19. It can be morning, afternoon or even in the evening. However, if you plan a bath in the ice-hole at the Epiphany you must always take into account the state of your health. There is also an option to wash with the baptismal water collected in the ice-hole.

Other winter Russian traditions

Yes, Russians do many weird things, especially when it concerns winter and old traditions. And there are plenty of other things you can experience when you travel to Russia. Especially along Trans-Siberian Railway, which pretty much covers all the country:
– many Russian winter traditions are connected with going to banya (Russian sauna), locals from Siberia just love these extreme changes of temperatures and jump from 100C hot banya into the snow outside. We would be happy to guide you through this either in Novosibirsk or in Krasnoyarsk, some of the must-visits along Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian Railway.
– another great city along Trans-Siberian is Ulan Ude, to the east from Baikal, there experience some ice-fishing, like our tourists Chris and Melanie from Australia did!
– of course, try ice-skating during your tour to Russia. You can make it basically in every city. In Moscow, which is the first city along Transsib, there are skating rings which are super romantic and beautiful. Like the one on VDNKh or in Gorky Park.
We say don’t be afraid to come over to Russia even in winter and even going that far as Trans-Siberian Railway.