Friday, January 20, 2012


Here in Atyrau, my friends and I are always up for an adventure. It is hard to find much to do besides exercise, cook and get together with friends.
(not that any of these activities are bad, but any sort of city wide festivities, outside of our village, are not the norm).
So when an opportunity to walk on a frozen river to get to the site of Christshenya came up,
we all jumped on it.
Christshenya is the Russian Orthodox celebration where the water in the river is blessed 12 days after the Russian Orthodox Christmas. Believers follow a procession from the church to the river where the priest says his prayers,

and blesses the water.
The most hardy of the believers then submerge themselves three times for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Their sins are absolved and they begin the year anew.

They had a scuba diver ready in case tragedy struck...aka...someone lets go of the ladder and falls underneath the ice.

Musical entertainment provided by the man with an accordion.
Changing room...(term used lightly!)

Those that can not fathom jumping into a frozen river in extremely cold air with only their undies on can collect the blessed, holy water and keep it in their homes until the following year, using it medicinally, to drink or however they choose.

We walked from our village down the frozen river. The ice is strange to walk on, half of me feeling secure, but yet feeling a little nervous in case I were to fall through!

It makes beautiful bubbles right underneath the surface.

The sunrise was beautiful behind this lone ice fisherman.

It was definitely a not-to-miss opportunity here in frozen Atyrau!


kari said...

apart from the wind it was a good day. fun to be outside watching such interesting cultural traditions and beliefs.
Great photos!

mythopolis said...

Cool! I remember skating on frozen rivers when I lived up was addictive!

Stickup Artist said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by! Brrrrrr. What a fascinating but chilly post. It was really nice of those people to let you photography their religious ceremony. I'm sure its' not something many people from the outside get to witness. Stay warm and dry!

Jennifer Souza said...

Beautiful photography...I love the way you got the older man in every stage of plunge. :-)

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

brrrr.....I was shivering just looking at those photos. No way could I get in that water. :) Did the ice make funny noises. Whenever the lake in our backyard freezes, it makes the strangest noises....kind of weird. So good to see you BG.

Anonymous said...

What an intriguing ritual! Makes me think that the people who actually go into the water must have something they want forgiven desperately, because who would do that!! Incredible.