JANUARY MADE ME SHIVER. The Russian winter is no blessing to Muscovites.
Moscow shivered through its fourth day of a cold snap, with temperatures dropping to minus 24 degrees overnight — the lowest recorded temperature on Jan. 19 since 1927, said Tatyana Pozdnyakova, a Moscow weather official.
The article does not specify whether that is in Fahrenheit, in which case we're talking about the night the North Shore Line died in 1963, or in Celsius, in which case it reminds me of a January 1977 trip across the Dakotas on a late-running Empire Builder. The Weather Channel is reporting seventy degrees of frost in Oymyakon, northeastern Siberia.

The cold snap coincided with Thursday's Russian Orthodox holiday of the Epiphany, and many defied warnings from doctors and priests by jumping into holes cut into thick ice on rivers and ponds to cleanse themselves.

The ritual imitates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. Many took the plunge around midnight Wednesday, with temperatures near their overnight lows.

Jumping into the water in such temperatures "is the most intense feeling," one man in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg told state-run Channel One television after taking a dip, his eyebrows rimed with frost.

Are our "Polar Bear" parties on New Years Day an adaptation of this custom?

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