MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a monastery to the northwest of Moscow on Thursday and took a dunk in the icy waters of Lake Seliger to celebrate the Epiphany, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"On the occasion of Epiphany, Putin attended a liturgy and also took part in the Epiphany bathing in Lake Seliger," Peskov said.
Putin visited the Nilo-Stolobensky monastery in the Tver Region after wrapping up his working visit to St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.
This winter season, central Russia has not encountered traditionally cold weather and this night the temperature failed to go below minus 6-7 degrees Celsius, Peskov said. This is not the first time Putin has gone for such icy ritual immersions. The president has taken part in the ice-hole bathing event "for several years already," he added.
Putin often attends church services during major Orthodox Christian holidays, but this is the first time the Kremlin has reported that the president has participated in the ice swimming event.
The ritual dunks in frigid waters take place overnight to January 19 on one of Orthodox Christianity’s major holidays, Epiphany. However, ice swimming is a folk custom rather than a religious ritual.