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Annual Greek Orthodox cold water plunge causes a splash on day of Epiphany

People assemble on Greece's shores every year to watch the action unfold
People assemble on Greece's shores every year to watch the action unfold   -   Copyright  AFP
By Theo Farrant  & AFP

People all over Greece congregated along the country's waters on January 6 for an ice cold dip into the sea.

Competitors battle to retrieve a wooden cross thrown into the sea by a priest.

The tradition – otherwise known as the Blessing of the Waters Day – takes place every year to celebrate the day of Epiphany.

A priest, surrounded by eager young men and boys, throws a cross into the sea, either from the harbour or from a boat floating on the water.

The second the cross leaves the priest’s hand, the divers jump into the freezing water to catch the cross. The lucky one who finds and returns the cross receives a blessing from the priest.

Widely considered to be a sacred, celebratory act, the leaps are carried out to commemorate the baptism of Christ and to bless the waters.

Check out the video above to see this tradition in action.