Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's that time of year again!

The guy above is having a religious experience, or freezing his b@lls off. My guess is it's both! The larger picture is below. Note that in the U.S., this would probably constitute child abuse (if you ignore the religious aspect of it).
As we have discussed almost every year, the Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated in the West as the Twelfth Day of Christmas--the day the Maji showed up with the presents. Only Polar Bear Clubs jump into icy water, and that's on New Years Day, and it has nothing to do with religion (but probably a lot to do with booze).

When I was young, we celebrated January 6th as Little Christmas (called Nollaig Bheag in Irish and we got presents).

The Russian Orthodox and many other Eastern Churches celebrate the Epiphany as the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. Priests bless the water and then the faithful take the plunge--going underwater three times. In some areas, a priest will throw a wooden cross into the frozen river or lake and the local yuts jump in in a mad scramble to get the cross. This all takes place on January 19th (because of difference between the Gregorian Calender (us) and the Julian Calendar). See photo from Siberia below, yes, Siberian, on January 19th!!!!!!!
In past years, we have seen Russian soldiers taking the plunge and a special pool set up in Moscow's Red Square. THIS LINK will take you to more pictures.

As you might expect, this used to be done primarily by men and (before cameras) mostly naked. THIS LINK is to a set of recent pictures of the faithful who still observe that practice. Please note that there is male nudity and, in their defense, it was very cold! [NOTE: I deleted the link because some of those going into the water might have been under 18.]

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