Mr. Dubin, the sociologist, said the practice’s popularity had less to do with religious revival than with enthusiastic coverage by Russian television. But others said it proved that 74 years of Communist rule were unable to stamp out the tradition, which holds that a priest’s blessing temporarily transforms water into the River Jordan, where Jesus Christ was baptized. Even at the height of state atheism, said Father Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, “the lines for holy water were longer than the lines at Lenin’s mausoleum.”
Quote taken from Russians Strengthen Their Faith and a Tradition With an Icy Water Plunge
It's clear these Russians do not understand the sacrament of baptism.
1. Discerning the difference between the sign and the thing signified (and between the physical act pointing to the greater spiritual reality) enables one to understand it's not necessary or important that the water turn into the River Jordan, for the efficacy of baptism is not in the nature or name of the physical element but in the work of the Spirit who makes the sacrament effectual for those who participate by faith.
2. The goal of Christian baptism is not to reach "nirvana" but to recognize salvation in Christ, to demonstrate where one's faith in God's salvation, & to receive grace its offered as one participates through faith.
3. The sacrament of baptism belongs to the Lord (His Church/His people, etc.) not a particular people group.
4. Baptism is not for the purpose of show, but worship.
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