The ice-swimming festival in Russia, marking the Epiphany day, is celebrated by millions of Russians every year. Russians of all ages celebrate it. As a crowd of people queuing in an ice hole to take turn dipping, it’s not a strange sight to find children among this queue. Parents bring their children to participate in the ice-dipping.
For those who don’t know what Epiphany is and how Russian celebrate it, research a bit about this January 19th holiday and how it is celebrated in Russia. Epiphany is an interesting wintertime festival. When you visit the country during January, it’s sure a cultural phenomenon not to miss.
Dipping children in frozen water during Russian Epiphany requires special attention from parents. Some things have to be prepared to ensure the child go through it safely.
1. Their consent
First thing first about dipping children in frozen water during Russian Epiphany is to ask whether the children want to do it or not. Maybe he/she is scared about it, maybe the child is not sure. It is certainly not wise to force them to do something they’re not sure about.
It is, of course, more fun and exciting if the children want to participate because of their own eagerness. For that, they will not only excited but also anticipate the day with great enthusiasm. If the kid doesn’t want to do it, it’s okay. Invite them to become one of the onlookers and observe the celebration (especially the dipping) from a distance. Perhaps next year, the children are brave enough to do it.
2. Check on children health before deciding to participate in the dipping ritual
This second point is actually not only limited to children but also applicable to adults. It’s important to check one’s health before participate in the bathing ritual. Checking health save many people from the disastrous outcome of the ice-dipping. Although there will be many officials during the celebration, it’s important to take precaution.
First, make sure that the child doesn’t have heart issues, lungs issues, and nervous system-related health condition. The child must also not have diabetes. Make sure that the child is on his or her prime health condition, not even common sickness like flu or cold. Make sure he or she is not too thin or too frail to take a plunge.
3. Taking cold showers for a few days beforehand
Conditioning is a useful tip when preparing for an Epiphany bath. Several days beforehand, have shower regularly with cold water. In wintertime, people often bathe or shower in warm water. Make an exception for the Epiphany, this way the body will be accustomed on cold temperature. Showering in cold water helps the kids prepare on what he will face during the ice dipping.
4. Equip children with necessary clothing
Be sure to equip children with a proper bathing suit. Clothe them with a warm fur coat while they stand to wait in line for the dip. The same thing goes with footwear. A pair of fur boot while waiting or afterward, and a pair of flipflops to go dipping.
Bathrobe or towel are needed when the child is done with the bathing ritual. Warm them with a warm thick towel immediately afterward. Also, do not forget about their clothes. Prepare dry clothes for change, do not let the children stay too long in cold with only a swimsuit.
5. Be sure there are lifeguards and medic around
It is greatly advisable to choose a popular location for the Epiphany bath. They will be a long queue for it, but popular swimming holes usually come with better facilities. And the most important is the presence of medics or rescue team around the location. Should something unfortunate happened, help will be at the ready.
Choosing the best location is easy. In big cities like Moscow, there were dozens of ice-holes spread across the city. They are available for people who want to participate on the Epiphany days. Many officials are assigned to overlook the festivity. Firefighters, medic, and rescue team.
Official places sometimes also come with after-ritual celebration, tents or booths serving warm beverages and snacks. Kids will certainly love it.
6. Exercise before ducking into the water
Like in a regular swim, warming up is important before an epiphany bath. Exercising will the blood flowing, prepare the body to endure the temperature drop on cold water. Exercising avoid crams and shock. It is advisable for everyone during the epiphany dip, not just children, but also for adults.
Ask your children to do a simple stretching, squatting, or simple aerobic movements. Not only that warming up prepare the body, but it also raises the kid’s excitement, prevents them to get bored while waiting, and also to help kill time especially if the queue is long.
7. Do not take a plunge on an empty stomach
Never let the kid dip into icy water when they’re hungry. Eat a small portion of food especially fatty foods. But do not let them eat too much beforehand either since it’s also dangerous.
8. Not more than 10 seconds per plunge
An epiphany bath is basically only dipping three times. And each dip, especially for children, should not more than 10 seconds. A quick plunge will do, for not more than 1-3 seconds. Teach the children how to dive properly. Gradually descend into the pool. Go up to the chest while holding the breath. Dip into the water for a second or two. Do it three times, then quickly come out from the pool where parents should wait readily with a dry towel.
9. Treat after the dip
After the bath, everyone’s stomach would go hungry. Now it is time for some festivity meals. Head for a nice Russian restaurant and treat the kids with anything they want. They just overcome a challenge and were brave enough to have a freezing dip, they deserve all the cakes in the world!
The Epiphany day will be a memorable day for the whole family!