ATHENS, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of Greek swimmers braved the cold and plunged into the sea, rivers and pools across the country on Sunday celebrating Epiphany Day, an important festival of Orthodox Christians.
Although the thermometer in the Greek capital showed 8 degrees Celsius and in other parts of the country was close to zero, people of all ages and professions took the plunge to retrieve wooden crucifixes cast by priests.
Greeks believe that the swimmers who retrieve the crosses from the waters are blessed with good luck throughout the new year.
Nikos Mylonas was among swimmers at the Athens' southern suburb of Faliro on Sunday. It was the first time he took part in the festival, he told Xinhua.
"I just wanted to do it for the experience. We were lucky the weather was better today. It was not as cold as yesterday or the day before," he said.
"It is a nice experience. Yes, as long as I will be able to do it, I will be taking the plunge," Manos Violakis, another swimmer, who participated for the fourth time, told Xinhua.
Babis Stefanos and Elias Sanidas, two friends who are winter swimmers, were also among those who tried to retrieve the crucifix at Faliro.
"For us today it felt like summer," Stefanos said.