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Last updated: January 06. 2014 5:35AM - 631 Views
Associated Press



Believers sing and dance in the river Tundzha, as they celebrate Epiphany day in the town of Kalofer, Bulgaria, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Traditionally, an Eastern Orthodox priest throws a cross in the river and it is believed that the one who retrieves it will be healthy through the year. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
Believers sing and dance in the river Tundzha, as they celebrate Epiphany day in the town of Kalofer, Bulgaria, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Traditionally, an Eastern Orthodox priest throws a cross in the river and it is believed that the one who retrieves it will be healthy through the year. (AP Photo/Valentina Petrova)
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(AP) Thousands of young men are plunging into icy rivers and lakes across Bulgaria to retrieve crucifixes cast by priests in an old ritual marking the feast of Epiphany.


By tradition, a crucifix is cast into the waters of a lake or river, and it is believed that the person who retrieves it will be freed from evil spirits and will be healthy through the year.


The celebration of Epiphany, or the Apparition of Christ, as Bulgarians call it, began on Monday in Sofia with a water blessing ceremony.


The head of Bulgaria's Orthodox Church, Patriarch Neofit, said a prayer for the prosperity of the people and blessed the colors of representative army units a tradition abandoned in 1946 and re-established in 1992.


Associated Press
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