Across Eastern Europe, millions of Orthodox Christians have been celebrating Epiphany and Christmas.

Epiphany, the 12th night of Christmas, marks the day the three wise men visited Christ, based on the version of the Julian calendar used in the UK.

This year the event was marked by Orthodox men in eastern Europe jumping into ice-cold lakes and rivers to retrieve crucifixes thrown by priests.

orthodox epiphany

People dressed as the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania

Whoever manages to reach the crucifix first is said to be rid of evil spirits.

Some Orthodox Christians, such as those in Russia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon use an earlier version of the Julian calendar meaning Christmas day falls on 7 January and epiphany on 19.

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  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as angels and the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as oxen and the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • LITHUANIA-RELIGION-TRADITION-EPIPHANY

    People dressed as angels and the Three Kings walk during a traditional epiphany march in the old district of Vilnius, Lithuania, on January 6, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PETRAS MALUKAS (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A boy lights a candle during a Christmas service in the Christian Orthodox church, St. Atanasij the Great, in the southeastern Macedonian town of Bogdanci, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas Day on Jan. 7 because they follow the Julian calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • Georgia Orthodox Christmas

  • Georgia Orthodox Christmas

  • Bosnia Orthodox Christmas

  • Georgians take a part in a religious procession to mark the Orthodox Christmas in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

  • Georgia Orthodox Christmas

  • Bosnian Serb children break the traditional Christmas bread to mark Orthodox Christmas Day festivities, in front Orthodox Church in Banja Luka, 350 kms north west of Sarajevo, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 as they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Radivoje Pavicic)

  • Georgia Orthodox Christmas

  • Georgians take part in a religious procession to mark the Orthodox Christmas in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

  • Georgians take a part in a religious procession to mark the Orthodox Christmas, in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

  • Georgians take a part in a religious procession to mark the Orthodox Christmas, in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

  • Georgians with National flags take part in a religious procession to mark the Orthodox Christmas, in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

  • A Bosnian Orthodox Serb woman, attends Christmas Mass, at the Orthodox Church in Tuzla, 70 kms north of Sarajevo, early morning, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 as they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

  • Bosnian Orthodox Serbs, attend Christmas Mass in Orthodox Church in Tuzla, 70 kms north of Sarajevo, early morning, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 as they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

  • Georgia Orthodox Christmas

  • A boy eats piece of prosphora, or offering of bread, given to him by a priest during a Christmas service in the Christian Orthodox church, St. Atanasij the Great, in the southeastern Macedonia's town of Bogdanci, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 because they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • A believer kisses a crucifix and receives a piece of the prosphora or offering of bread from the priest, during a Christmas service in the Christian Orthodox church, St. Atanasij the Great in the southeastern Macedonia's town of Bogdanci, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 as they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • An elderly woman attends a Christmas service in the Christian Orthodox church St. Atanasij the Great, in the southeastern Macedonia's town of Bogdanci, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 as they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • A woman lights candles, during a Christmas service in the Christian Orthodox church, St. Atanasij the Great, in the southeastern Macedonia's town of Bogdanci, on Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 because they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • An elderly woman looks at the illuminated nativity scene, set in St. Atanasij the Great Christian Orthodox church, in the southeastern Macedonia's town of Bogdanci, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas day on January 7 because they follow the Julian Calendar, which was replaced in Western Europe by the Gregorian calendar 500 years ago. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

  • A Christian Serb Orthodox believer breaking traditional Christmas bread to mark the Orthodox Christmas Day festivities, in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Children traditionally scramble for a piece of the bread, searching for a gold coin, hidden inside. The Serbs celebrate Christmas according to Julian Calendar, on January 7. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • Belgrade bakers carry the traditional Christmas bread, to mark the Orthodox Christmas Day festivities, in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Children traditionally scramble for a piece of the bread, searching for a gold coin, hidden inside. The Serbs celebrate Christmas according to Julian Calendar, on January 7. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • Christian Serb Orthodox believers breaking traditional Christmas bread to mark the Orthodox Christmas Day festivities, in Belgrade, Serbia, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Children traditionally scramble for a piece of the bread, searching for a gold coin, hidden inside. The Serbs celebrate Christmas according to Julian Calendar, on January 7. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

  • Greek Archbishop Alexious, leads prayers during Christmas celebrations at a Greek Orthodox church in Gaza City, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013. Several Orthodox communities celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

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  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmers compete to retrieved the wooden cross from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmers compete to retrieved the wooden cross from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmers hold the wooden cross they retrieved from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmers hold the wooden cross in the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    A Greek Orthodox swimmer kisses the wooden cross he rtrieved from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    A Greek Orthodox swimmer kisses the wooden cross he rtrieved from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmer Lucas Coconis holds the wooden cross in the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TURKEY-RELIGION-ORTHODOX-EPIPHANY

    Greek Orthodox swimmers hold the wooden cross they retrieved from the Bosphorus river's Golden Horn after a mass as part of celebrations of the Epiphany day at the Church of Fener Orthodox Patriarchiate in Istanbul, on January 6, 2013. The Orthodox faith uses the old Julian calendar in which Christmas falls 13 days after its more widespread Gregorian calendar counterpart on December 25. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A Bulgarian boy holds a cross as believers sing and dance in the icy waters of river Tundzha to celebrate Epiphany day in the town of Kalofer, Bulgaria, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. 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 icy waters of river Tundzha as they celebrate Epiphany day in the town of Kalofer, Bulgaria, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. 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)

  • Swimmers stand ready to retrieve a wooden cross which is cast into the waters during a ceremony to bless the water at Flisvos beach, Paleo Faliro, near Athens, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

  • A young man holds aloft the wooden cross next to his father who retrieved it from the waters during a ceremony to bless the water at Flisvos beach, Paleo Faliro, near Athens, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

  • Swimmers stand ready to retrieve a wooden cross which is cast into the waters during a ceremony to bless the water at Flisvos beach, Paleo Faliro, near Athens, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

  • Swimmers jump into the sea water to retrieve a cross thrown by a priest into the waters during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the waters in southeastern coastal resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. In the traditional Epiphany ceremony to bless the water, an Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and swimmers race to be first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

  • Swimmers try to catch a cross thrown by a priest into the sea during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the waters in southeastern coastal resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. In the traditional Epiphany ceremony to bless the water, an Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and swimmers race to be first to retrieve it.(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

  • Swimmers try to catch a cross after throwing from a priest into the sea during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the waters in southeastern coastal resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. In the traditional Epiphany ceremony to bless the water, an Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and swimmers race to be first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

  • Lukas Kokinis

    Swimmers celebrate together after Lukas Kokinis from Greece, second right, retrieved a wooden cross which was thrown into the waters by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I during a ceremony to bless the water at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany in Istanbul, Turkey, when an Orthodox priest throws a wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo)

  • A swimmer holds a cross as he retrieves it from the sea it was thrown by a priest into the sea during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the waters in southeastern coastal resort of Ayia Napa, Cyprus, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. In the traditional Epiphany ceremony to bless the water, an Orthodox priest throws a cross into the water and swimmers race to be first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

  • Lukas Kokinis

    Swimmers celebrate after Lukas Kokinis from Greece, obscured second left, retrieved a cross which was thrown into the waters by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I during a ceremony to bless the water at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany in Istanbul, Turkey, when an Orthodox priest throws a wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo)

  • Giorgos Ypsilantis, holds up the wooden cross after being the first to retrieve it, during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece's northern port city of Thessaloniki, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

  • Giorgos Ypsilantis, kisses the wooden cross after being the first to retrieve it, during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece's northern port city of Thessaloniki, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

  • Giorgos Ypsilantis, holds up the wooden cross after being the first to retrieve it, during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece's northern port city of Thessaloniki, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

  • Swimmers race to retreive a wooden cross during an Epiphany ceremony to bless the water in Greece's northern port city of Thessaloniki, on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany, and similar ceremonies are held across Greece on river banks, seafronts and lakes, when an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo/Nikolas Giakoumidis)

  • Lukas Kokinis

    Swimmers race as Lukas Kokinis from Greece retrieves a wooden cross which was thrown into the waters by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I during a ceremony to bless the water at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The traditional ceremony marks the Epithany in Istanbul, Turkey when Bartholomew I or an Orthodox priest throws a simple wooden cross into the water and swimmers race to be the first to retrieve it. (AP Photo)