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Catholics celebrated the Christian holiday of Epiphany in the Village of Eshtia in Ninotsminda Municipality on 6 January. Despite poor weather and frost, locals braved the cold water to complete the ritual. Local resident Armen Simonyan was the first to swim across the river to retrieve the ceremonial cross. He was awarded $300 by local priest Volik Halachyan.
Epiphany is a Christian holiday celebrated by Catholics every year on 6 January. The holiday is associated with the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, with churches blessing water on this day. Previously, water was extracted from the nearest river or lake by drilling a hole in the ice in the form of a large cross; Eshtia has retained this tradition. Believers pray over the water while the priest lowers the cross into the river. After this, the water in the river is considered to be baptised.
People fill various vessels with the water from river and carry them home. They believe that the water cures various ailments, and brings vigor and health.