Russian believers lower a young girl into ice cold water to mark the upcoming Epiphany in northwestern Moscow. Thousands of Russian Orthodox Church followers plunged Tuesday into icy rivers and ponds across the country to mark the upcoming Epiphany, cleansing themselves with water deemed holy for the day. Water that is blessed by a cleric on Epiphany is considered holy and pure until next year's celebration, and is believed to have special powers of protection and healing. The Russian Orthodox Church follows the old Julian calendar, according to which Epiphany falls on Jan. 19. Moscow temperatures on Tuesday morning dropped to -13 C ( 9 F).
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