Orthodox Christians brave icy waters in Bulgaria
(6 Jan 2019) Thousands of Orthodox Christian worshippers plunged into the icy waters of rivers and lakes across Bulgaria on Sunday to recover crucifixes cast by priests in ceremonies commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ.
Tradition holds that the person who retrieves the wooden cross will be freed from evil spirits and will be healthy throughout the year.
After the cross is fished out, the priest sprinkles the congregation with water using a bunch of basil.
Epiphany is held every year on 6 January and marks the end of 12 days of Christmas.
In the mountain city of Kalofer, in central Bulgaria, dozens of men dressed in white embroidered shirts waded into the icy Tundzha River waving national flags and singing folk songs.
Inspired by the music of drums and bagpipes and by homemade plum brandy, they performed a slow "mazhko horo," or men's dance, stomping on the rocky riverbed.
Led by the town's mayor, the men danced for nearly half an hour, up to their waists in the cold water, pushing away chunks of ice floating on the river.
The town of Kalofer has applied to the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, for this traditional ritual to be inscribed as part of the "intangible cultural heritage of humanity."
Find out more about AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/HowWeWork
You can license this story through AP Archive: http://www.aparchive.com/metad....ata/youtube/2bc7d8ce