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Bulgarian Men in Mad, Icy Plunge to Get Closer to Christ

Bulgariacross

One of the few things that can bring massive amounts of shirtless men this close to one another in Bulgaria is the celebration of Christ's baptism on Epiphany (January 6), when the race for a wooden cross thrown into an icy lake is as frantic as a shopping stampede at Walmart.

Bulgariacross2

According to Sofia News Agency Novinvite: "The main ritual is performed by a priest who throws a cross into a river or a lake for young men to catch it. It is believed that the first person that gets to the cross will enjoy good health throughout the whole year."

Cross

According to the agency, "Krassimir Nikolov, a 22-year-old student at the National Sport Academy, was the first to reach the cross."

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Comments

  1. Um- why does this sound to me like just another pervy way the church manages to get young guys naked?

    Posted by: BusyTimmy | Jan 7, 2008 9:39:09 AM


  2. Where can I find a church that encourages groups of hot guys to run around in speedos?

    Posted by: Bloggernista | Jan 7, 2008 10:05:10 AM


  3. That's a whole lotta shrinkage.

    Posted by: JJ | Jan 7, 2008 10:28:48 AM


  4. Nice! Pagan rituals and christology in a large body of freezing cold water, mix well with a bit of human stupidity and, Voila! We have Young Dumb, and Full of...

    Ah, the human race. Ain't it cute?

    ...Next week on Cookin' with Christ...

    Posted by: FizziekruntNT | Jan 7, 2008 11:07:12 AM


  5. The good health happens AFTER the hypothermia/pneumonia, I assume.

    Posted by: Deschanel | Jan 7, 2008 11:09:04 AM


  6. "...Cookin' with Christ..." LOL.

    I wonder if they allow Pork? Christ was Jewish, you know.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 7, 2008 11:11:10 AM


  7. I really don't get it. Is this a superstition or something?

    And these people must really be bored for something to do (but some are prob really hot)

    Posted by: Jordan | Jan 7, 2008 11:41:45 AM


  8. i much prefer the original ritual it's based on... naked men whipping each other as they run through the streets of athens or was it rome, anyway you get the idea... just substitute dionysus for christ

    Posted by: the queen | Jan 7, 2008 11:46:15 AM


  9. Curious that the Bulgarians use the new calendar... For Russians and most Orthodox Slavs Jan. 6 is only Christmas Eve! Baptism doesn't come until Jan. 19.

    But in most Orthodox Slavic tradition, this is the end of the period of "Sviatki," the Winter holy time when the Russians traditionally went house to house in costume singing carols and demanding treats or threatening tricks (sound familiar?). Baptism / Epiphany / Bogoiavlenie is when order was restored at the end of Sviatki with blessing of holy water, with various local bodies of water being declared the "Jordan."

    Posted by: KevinVT | Jan 7, 2008 12:13:25 PM


  10. Too bad only Krassimir Nikolov will have good health, while the rest will die.

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 7, 2008 2:39:51 PM


  11. Is so much fun reading comments of bunch of people who would never go and read something about other nations' culture and customs, but gladly would offer their generalized opinions on the subject matter, based solely on a short snippet.

    Ho was it? "Ah, the human race. Ain't it cute?" Ri-ght. Indeed.

    Btw, in one of the major cities of Bulgaria, for the first time ever, it was a girl that got to the the Cross first.

    Posted by: Alex | Jan 7, 2008 4:29:19 PM


  12. "...a bunch of people who would never go and read something about other nations' culture and customs..."

    Not fair, Alex. We get all the foreign culture information we can use right here on this blog. And don't forget, we have crazy white guys who run into the frigid ocean too. They let them loose in New Jersey sometime next month. They aint built as nice as those Bulgarian guys though.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 7, 2008 4:38:46 PM


  13. Derrik, what's in here is not nearly enough to understand why somehitng is being done. And saying that someone's tradition is done out of stupidity mixes and not having what else to do? Come on. I just think that in order to judge others' customs, you need to read a little bit more than what's in here; otherwise the opinion is inadequate as they come.

    it's NOT a superstition, it's a ritual. Only one of the points is chalanging your body limits vs. your faith. When your faith is real, you never get harmed by performing this particular ritual. And as far as I know, no one ever did. This year the youngest participant was 19, the oldest - 67. Which is not much, there were years with older participants. And no one ever got hurt - no frostbite, no heart-attack, no nothing, after taking part in this ritual.

    In Russia they have a whole movement called walrusing. They bathe in ice water, during the winter, breaking the ice, and skinny dippng in the water underneath, to harden their bodies and health. European tradition, and Slavic/Bolkans' ones in particular are really tricky to catch up with if unprepared, but I'm not sure blindly judging is the right way. Still, of course, whatever floats anyones' boat.

    Posted by: Alex | Jan 7, 2008 5:05:43 PM


  14. Ewwww. Shrinkage.

    Posted by: wearekevin | Jan 7, 2008 10:20:12 PM


  15. About ten years ago, a friend's younger brother (Greek descent) participated in one of these idiotic "plunge for Christ" rituals and died of a heart attack from the shock of the cold water after he jumped in. He was 19 years old.

    Posted by: mike | Jan 8, 2008 6:57:46 AM


  16. About ten years ago, a friend's younger brother (Greek descent) participated in one of these idiotic "plunge for Christ" rituals and died of a heart attack from the shock of the cold water after he jumped in. He was 19 years old.

    Posted by: mike | Jan 8, 2008 6:58:06 AM


  17. I have faith that Jesus loves Speedos too

    Posted by: Grego | Jan 8, 2008 10:33:47 AM


  18. @MIKE: I'm sorry to hear that. But in Bulgaria have never occured such incident, not thatI'm aware of. They would mention it in the news anyway, but there haven't been none.
    Again, I'm sorry for your friend's loss.

    Posted by: Alex | Jan 9, 2008 8:49:40 AM


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