Why Belarusians plunge into ice-cold water in January

Why Belarusians plunge into ice-cold water in January

Hundreds of “walruses” from all over the world arranged an incredibly spectacular swim in the heart of Minsk this week. The Winter Swimming World Cup was held right on the bank of the Svisloch. Then the Cup’s participants could take a steam bath. It is believed that such contrasting temperature is good for the body.

Thousands of Belarusians plunged into the icy water as it’s believed this procedure can help cleanse your soul. Also this holiday is a cause for various folk games.

The Yevtukh family has been doing right this thing for 8 years. Igor was one of the first who began the tradition of plunging into an ice hole. This evening the whole family is here.

Daniil Yevtukh:
My first dipping was in 2017, the second will be in 2018.

The festive liturgy continues under the open sky. The searchlight of the rescuers illuminates the darkness. Ice can be very dangerous, therefore the Society for Water Rescue (OSVOD) and the doctors are monitoring the situation.

Archpriest Evgeniy Labynko, rector of the Church of St. George in Nesvizh:
I watched videos on the Internet. People say directly into the camera that they are unbelievers. To plunge into the icy water is just a challenge for them. It's a little strange for me. Water doesn’t heal; it is the grace of God that heals.

In 2018, just overnight on the eve of Epiphany, more than 150 people plunged into the icy water, 20 of them children.

There are other traditions. Once in Epiphany Evenings girls told fortunes. The most classic way of fortune-telling was throwing a boot over the gate.

The Orthodox Church is totally against such entertainment. However, in the old days people believed that the divination was the most truthful that night.

Alla Yanskaya, master of the Stolbtsy regional center of culture and folk art:
On the eve of Epiphany my grandmother gave me the bowl of water, put the stick and closed the lock. She said: "The future husband, come to this girl, open the lock and let her drink water or help her across the bridge". Then I had a dream about my future husband.

On this night, personal and household problems were resolved. The ancestors also foretold the future harvest. This year kutia shows that the year will be rich for harvest.

Sergei is one of those who were healed by faith. Eight years ago his life was falling apart.

Sergei Banko, resident of the Holy Elizabethan Monastery:
I had problems with drugs. My life started to fall apart. I had terrible incurable diseases. After living in the monastery, the tests showed the absence of disease.

Then it seemed that the monastery would become a kind of stopping point, but it turned out that he chose the true path. On the eve of Epiphany Sergei tied the knot. The wedding ceremony will be soon.

Oleg Gaidukevich, First Deputy Chairman of the Liberal-Democratic Party of Belarus:
Preparation for plunge is very essential. My child is 5 years old. We have been plunging him since 3 years. It is impossible to become a good person in one day by dipping in an ice-hole.

Anastasia Dekhtyar, CTV:
Water is a symbol of purification. It cleans not only the body, but the soul. However, the true effect is given only by faith.