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Russians celebrate Epiphany by diving into freezing waters

Thousands of Russians have taken a dip in icy waters to celebrate Epiphany, a major holiday in Orthodox Christianity which marks the birth and baptism of Jesus.

Water blessed by a priest on the Epiphany week in Orthodox tradition is considered holy and pure, and bathing is believed to have healing powers.

In Moscow, authorities set up 60 official bathing sites for believers on Monday night, from open-air pools to holes in ponds. Temperatures in the city were minus 10C (14F) overnight.

For some Russians this year, Epiphany bathing was a more relaxed experience. The defence ministry organised celebrations for the troops serving at Russia's military base in Syria by putting up an inflated rubber pool.

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