Local Russian Orthodox believers, a fearless babushka first among them, are pictured here observing the feast with the traditional triple immersions into frigid bodies of water such as semi-frozen rivers or ponds.
Longstanding tradition holds that the triple immersions, done in the name of the Holy Trinity on the day of the Church’s great feast which marks the Trinity’s revelation to mankind at Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan, wash away believers’ sins.
The images here are taken from the January 2010 Theophany observations at the New Jerusalem monastery outside Moscow.
In this additional YouTube video, taken from the January 2011 Theophany observations at the monastery of Raifa in the Kazan diocese, you can see the solemn processions with clergymen and laity carrying holy icons, censers and banners to the solemn ringing of church bells to the man-made “Jordan”.
The “Jordan” here is the cross-shaped hole cut into the ice above a frozen pond or lake which the attendant clergy bless (this is the Great Blessing of the Waters). As you can see, local villagers take great pride in their ice sculpting abilities and have fashioned an elaborate kind of open-air bath tub, a standing cross of St. Olga, and even a sculpted miniature of the Moscow Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Most Holy Protection of the Theotokos (popularly known as St. Basil’s Cathedral).