Putin celebrates Epiphany by bathing in ice cold waters

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Vladimir Putin took part in an annual Russian Orthodox custom by wading through the frigid waters of a frozen lake today, a few hundred miles north of Moscow.

In Orthodox tradition, believers immerse themselves in rivers and lakes to commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

Vladimir Putin emerges from the water near St Nilus Stolobensky monastery on Lake Seliger.

In the video, he can be seen blessing himself as he lowers himself into the water wearing only his swimming trunks.

The Epiphany marks the end of Christmas festivities for Christians around the world. His spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the water temperature was about 21 degrees Fahrenheit.

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He then removed his attire, as is traditional for the Epiphany bathing, and took the dip in the water that had been blessed by the Russian clergy. He tried it for the first time on January 19, 2011, during Orthodox Christian celebrations of the Epiphany, or the baptism of Christ, but now he also sees it as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

Putin walks to the icy waters of Lake Seliger.

In 2007, the now famous pictures of him emerged hunting topless.

The U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, was also scheduled to take part in an Epiphany ceremony on Friday, state media reported.