Every year Ukrainian Orthodox and Greek Catholic Christians celebrate Epiphany. One of the most famous traditions during the feast is bathing in ice-holes. Churchgoers believe that the water this day is sacred, and that after diving three times in an icy-hole like Jesus, people will feel better and healthier for the next year. Despite of the fact that this tradition is hundred years old, many people still do not know, how to bathe in icy waters properly.
How to bathe in icy-holes?
No restrict rules to bathe in icy waters exist, although novices should start preparing themselves to Epiphany bathing from summer in order to accustom their organisms to cold water. If you decide to bathe in icy-holes, then you should remember several rules:
1.You should prepare your organism to cold temperatures during two weeks before the bathing, for example, you can wipe with wet cold towel and take contrast shower. It is useful to be outside for some time wearing minimum cloth.
- Not all weather is good for bathing in icy waters. The perfect temperature for a novice is from 2 to 5 degrees below zero. You can try to bathe in frosty weather, but 10 degrees below zero could be very dangerous for a first time.
- You should bathe only in special equipped holes near the riverside, even better near rescue stations.
- Eat one hour before bathing, and do not drink alcohol.
- Before bathing it is necessary to warm up your body, for example, you can do a workout or go for a run.
- Wear shoes, which you can easily put off, or woolen socks. The special rubber flip-floppers would do as well.
- Women should not wear open swimsuits, it is better to use close shirts.
- Bathing – is diving in icy water for three times. While bathing a Christian crosses himself and says: “in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!”
- It is strictly forbidden to dive head-first. Better not to jump and not to submerge in the water, because the temperature gets lower and a person can get shocked due to cold. It is better to dive neck-dip, in order to avoid reflex narrowing of the brain vessels.
- In order to avoid hypothermia do not stay in the water longer than 10 seconds.
- When you get out of the hole, do not hold on to handrails, instead of this it is better to use a dry towel.
- After bathing you should rub yourself with a dry towel and put on some warm cloth. Remember, too hard rubbing can cause damage to your skin.
- After that it is useful to drink hot tea of berries or fruits.
Who are not allowed to bathe?
People suffering from such acute and chronic illnesses are not allowed to bathe:
- inflammatory diseases of the nasopharynx, nasal cavities, otitis;
- respiratory system (tuberculosis of lungs - active and in stage of complications, pneumonia, bronchial asthma, eczema).
- cardiovascular system (congenital and acquired heart valve defects, coronary heart disease with angina attacks, myocardial infarction, coronary cardiosclerosis, hypertonic disease of stages II and III);
- endocrine system (diabetes mellitus, thyrotoxicosis);
- central nervous system (epilepsy, the consequences of severe skull trauma, sclerosis of the cerebral vessels in the expressed stage, syringomyelia, encephalitis, arachnoiditis);
- peripheral nervous system (neuritis, polyneuritis);
- genitourinary system (nephritis, cystitis, inflammation of the appendages, inflammation of the prostate gland);
- gastrointestinal tract (peptic ulcer, enterocolitis, cholecystitis, hepatitis);
- eyesight (glaucoma, conjunctivitis);
- skin and venereal diseases.
Besides, pregnant women (premature contractions or miscarriage can happen) and children under the age of six are not allowed to bathe in icy waters.
Where and when to bathe?
Ukrainian local governments equip special places for bathing with everything needed in big cities and small towns and the press informs about that.
In particular, there are made a hole in form of the cross and safe passages to this hole, there also are police officers, lifeguards and a medical brigade.
The process of holy bathing happens either on the night before January, 19 or the next day. After the church service ends, the solemn processions to the holes take place. After the water is sanctified, you are free to bathe.