Epiphany marked with icy plunge
January 06, 2014 10:10 AM

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Thousands of young men are plunging into icy rivers and lakes across Bulgaria to retrieve crucifixes cast by priests in an old ritual marking the feast of Epiphany.

By tradition, a crucifix is cast in a lake or river, and it is believed the person who retrieves it will be freed from evil spirits and will be healthy through the year.

The celebration of Epiphany, or the Apparition of Christ, as Bulgarians call it, began today in Sofia with a water blessing ceremony.

The head of Bulgaria’s Orthodox Church, Patriarch Neofit, said a prayer for the prosperity of the people and blessed the colors of representative army units — a tradition abandoned in 1946 and re-established in 1992.

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