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Russian Orthodox believers take an icy plunge on Epiphany

Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

In an observance of Epiphany, Russian Orthodox believers swim in an icy pond outside St. Petersburg, Russia, before dawn on Jan. 19, 2013, defying temperature of 15 degrees below zero. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church members plunged into rivers and ponds across the country to mark the holiday, cleansing themselves with water deemed holy, and believed to have protective and healing powers. Water blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until the next year's celebration.