Epiphany day in Russia. How to get rid of your sins.
Guess what people are going to do if they follow these rules:
- No alcohol before doing it.
- Start to take a contrast shower at least a few days before.
- Eat well 2 hours before it.
- Take along just convenient clothes that will be easy to take off and put on.
- Before it, do a few squats to warm up.
- In case you’ve never done it before, keep your head up.
- Take along a thermos flask to have some hot tea after it.
Well done if your answer is ’to plunge in an ice hole’. This is probably the craziest tradition in Russia that blows people’s minds when they try to imagine it. And every year a great number of people want to try the “ice-hole challenge” not only because of religious reasons.
Why do so many people all over Russia wait in a long line to jump in cold water on Epiphany day, January 19?
Miracles of Epiphany
Epiphany is a Christian holiday established in honor of the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River.
During baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in the form of a dove and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17).
A few days before January 19 a jordan is made on ice of a river or a lake. A jordan is an ice hole in the shape of a cross next to which a wooden cross is set up.
After liturgy believers go with a cross procession to a jordan and a priest says prayers and lowers his cross in water three times. Now everyone can have a bath in Epiphany water.
Epiphany water is believed to cleanse from sins. Bathing in such cold water could be good for your health. Cold water releases deep forces of your body, body temperature reaches 40 degrees Celsius at which viruses, germs, and diseased cells die. Of course, you need to take your time and get prepared for such extreme temperatures. You can start by taking a contrast shower every morning. There are some medical limitations. Consult your doctor before plunging.
All the water on the night of Epiphany turns into the Jordanian waters in which Jesus was baptized. It is believed that any water from any source, even from a tap, becomes holy, and not only the water which the priest sanctified.
The Divination night
A popular belief is that the night before Epiphany is full of wonders. It can unveil the mystery of your fate. That is why this night is so beloved among unmarried young girls who want to know anything about their future husbands. This is the night of divination.
Do you want to know who your future husband is? Just try this.
You will see your future husband in your dream if
- you put your comb under your pillow and say, ‘My sweetheart come to comb my hair’.
- you eat a spoonful of salt and say, ‘My sweetheart, I’m thirsty. Give me some water to drink’.
- you put four playing cards kings under your pillow. If the king of spades appears in your dream, your husband will be much older than you. If you see the king of hearts, you will get married with a young and rich man. If the king of clubs comes in your dream, you will be clubbing for the rest of your life. We are kidding. Your husband will be military. The king of diamonds means the man who you love with all your heart. You know who he is, don’t you?
This night also has a wonderful power to make three of your dreams come true. All you need is twelve pieces of paper with twelve dreams written on them. Put these pieces under your pillow. Next morning take just three ones. These are your dreams which are going to come true within a year.
WARNING: You must remember that divination is a great sin. So after it you must have a bath in a jordan to get rid of the sin.
Where you can have a bath
One of the most popular places in the city is Yakobi beach that is located not far from a lovely Alexander Nevski church (Yakobi 3 Street) at the Angara river bay. And of course, you can plunge in the cold water of Baikal in Listvyanka, 70 km away from Irkutsk. The water of the lake is believed to have healing power. On Epiphany day, it becomes even more powerful.
Even if you are not religious, try this out to challenge yourself and to get to know a bit better “mysterious Russian soul”. Irkutsk Urban Adventures promises you, it’s gonna be fun!
Written by Marina, local guide.