The Orthodox Church celebrates Baptism or Epiphany on January 19 (in a new style). This is the most ancient holiday of Christians, and its establishment is rooted in the times of the disciples-apostles of Christ. He also has ancient names: “Epiphany” - a phenomenon, “Theophany” - Epiphany, “Holy lights”, “Feast of Lights” or simply “Sveta”, since it is the Lord Himself who came to the world on this day to show him the Light Unapproachable.
The word "baptize" or "baptize" from the Greek language is translated as "immersed in water." It is practically impossible to understand the importance and the very meaning of what the Epiphany is, without knowing the symbolic significance of water in the Old Testament.
Water is the beginning of life. It was she who fertilized all living things, which came from her. Where there is no water, there is a lifeless desert. And water is capable of destroying it, as it was in the days of the Great Flood, when God flooded the sinful life of people and thereby destroyed the evil that they did.
God, with his baptism, made the water holy, and now the water blessing is traditionally celebrated in memory of this event. At this time, the water is consecrated in all Orthodox churches, and then in rivers and reservoirs.
On this day, a folk procession called the “Procession to the Jordan” is traditionally carried out in order to consecrate the water and then arrange an epiphany bathing in the ice-hole.
The baptism of John meant that as a body washed with water was cleansed, so the repentant soul who believed in God would be cleansed of sins by the Savior.
The biblical story tells how Jesus of Nazareth came in those days, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. When Jesus came out of the water, the heavens opened, and the Spirit, like a dove, came upon him. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my beloved son, in whom is my blessing."
Epiphany revealed to people the Great Secret of the Holy Trinity, to which every one who baptized joins. Then Christ told his apostles to go and teach all nations.
Epiphany bathing. Traditions
The tradition of water blessing in our ancestors appeared from those ancient times, when in 988 the Kiev Prince Vladimir baptized Russia. Now, only the priest can perform the rite of water consecration, since at this time special prayers are read with triple immersion of the cross. This is done on the feast of baptism itself after the liturgy. But first, before this, a hole is made in the pond, usually in the form of a cross, called “Jordan”.
These days, the water of baptism is a real shrine that can heal and strengthen the mental and physical strength of a person. Therefore, such a solemn procession of consecration is performed near the hole in the reservoir in order to make bathing at Baptism available to people. Orthodox people take water from the hole and wash themselves, but the most courageous and courageous people literally dive into it.
Russian tradition of bathing in the hole was borrowed from the ancient Scythians, who so tempered their babies. They just dipped them into cold water and thus accustomed to the harsh climatic conditions.
In addition, the tradition of swimming in the hole was in the pagan rites, as was the initiation into the warriors. And nowadays in Russia they like to rub themselves with snow after a bath or jump into cold water.
Some pagan rituals and rooted in our lives to this day. Therefore, we bathe in the hole and celebrate Shrovetide, which is tied to the beginning of Lent.
According to church rules, on the Epiphany Eve, a “great blessing of water” takes place. Believers come to church service, put candles and collect consecrated water. However, it is not required to dip into the ice-hole, it happens at the will of the person.
In general, in Russia it was believed that bathing in the hole for baptism promotes healing from many ailments. Water, like living matter, is capable of changing its structure under the influence of information, so everything depends on the thoughts in a person’s head. Epiphany bathing turns into whole folk festivals, photos of this celebration always show how fun and interesting they are.
Bathing in Baptism. How to
But this fun and harmless, at first glance, exercise may entail a number of unpleasant moments. Special training Epiphany bathing does not specifically imply. The human body is adapted to the cold, and therefore only the attitude is important here.
What can happen to the human body when immersed in an ice-hole?
1. When a person is immersed in cold water with his head, he has a sharp arousal of the central nervous system and cerebral cortex, which generally has a positive effect on the entire body.
2. The effects of low temperatures are briefly perceived by the body as stress, which can relieve inflammation, swelling and spasms.
3. The thermal conductivity of air enveloping the body is 28 times less than the thermal conductivity of water. This is the effect of hardening.
4. Cold water causes the body to release additional forces, and after contact with it, the temperature of the human body rises to 40 degrees Celsius. And as you know, at this mark, microbes, diseased cells and viruses die.
Bathing in Epiphany frosts implies the fulfillment of certain rules. The main thing is that the hole was specially equipped and all this action took place under the supervision of rescuers. The population is usually informed about such mass bathing places.
Swimming in the ice-hole suggests the presence of swimming trunks or a swimsuit, a terry robe and towels, as well as a set of dry clothes, slippers or wool socks, a rubber cap and hot tea.
Before you arrange bathing in Baptism, how to do it correctly is very important to know. First you need to warm up a little charging, and even better to do a run. To the hole should be approached in a non-slip, comfortable, easily removable shoes or socks. It is also necessary to check the stability of the stairs, and to secure it, throw a rope firmly fixed on the shore into the water.
It is necessary to dip into the hole along the neck and it is better not to wet the head so that the vessels of the brain do not narrow. Hopping in the ice hole with the head is also undesirable, as the loss of temperature can cause shock. Cold water will immediately cause rapid breathing, and this is perfectly normal, so the body adapts to the cold. It is dangerous to be in water for more than one minute; cooling of the body may occur. You also need to carefully monitor the children, who, frightened, may forget that they know how to swim.
You also need to be able to get out of the ice-hole so as not to fall, and for this you need to hold tight to the handrails, and at the same time use a dry rag. After bathing, you must carefully rub yourself with a towel and wear dry clothes. After bathing, it is best to drink hot tea made from herbs or berries, pre-cooked in a thermos.
It is strictly forbidden to drink alcohol on this day, as it negatively affects the natural thermoregulation of the whole organism, therefore, the consequences may be different. It is also important to know that it is also unacceptable to bathe on a hungry or, on the contrary, clogged stomach.
Contraindications to bathing
No matter how useful Epiphany bathing is, there are still contraindications to this. And they relate to acute and chronic diseases. This is a violation of the cardiovascular system (heart defects, hypertension, heart attacks), central nervous system (cranial injuries, epilepsy), endocrine system (thyrotoxicosis, diabetes mellitus), visual organs (conjunctivitis, glaucoma), respiratory organs (asthma, pneumonia , tuberculosis), urogenital system (cystitis, inflammation of the appendages or prostate gland), gastrointestinal tract (ulcer, cholecystitis, hepatitis), skin and venereal diseases; inflammation of the nasopharynx and otitis, etc.
Medical experts in this area believe that bathing in the hole in the baptism does not bring any unexpected trouble, you need to be completely healthy. And it is especially dangerous for those who smoke or consume alcohol, since blood flow to the lungs can cause inflammation or even edema of the bronchi and pneumonia. In young people, not to mention the elderly, the arteries are not always able to properly respond to cold water, and at this point, breathing can stop, and then the heart.
If you engage in systemic winter swimming, it will certainly contribute to the improvement of the body, but when this happens infrequently, everything will become a strong stress for him, so before bathing you need to seriously weigh all the pros and cons.
Many people at Baptism heroically decide to swim in the hole, although this idea may be unsafe. However, the very popular Epiphany bathing takes place very well, the photos from these holidays are quite expressive, someone is only setting up to go into the water, someone is already happy that he bathed, and someone is already warming and drinking hot tea.
Many believers believe that bathing in the hole for baptism for a real Orthodox person is a great blessing. And indeed it is. Only here the main thing is to understand whether this faith is strong and deep enough for you to become a real shield from all misfortunes at the moment when Epiphany bathing takes place.