Ever thought of jumping in ice water in the middle of Winter? That’s probably a no and that’s totally understandable. But, once a year, countries all around the world take part in a custom called the “Polar Bear Plunge”. A large crowd of people come together as a form of celebration and usually a way to raise money for a cause by jumping into ice cold water during the cold months of the year. Never heard of it before? Read below to see if we’ve covered your country in this list!
1. United Kingdom
Image via PolarBearPlunge.org.uk
A practice that takes place mainly on New Years Day to celebrate the coming of a new year, the UK loves the Polar Bear Plunge. It’s also pretty common to find a majority of the people dressed up in weird costumes. The plunge takes place annually in South Queensferry, Scotland. Before the plunge takes place the people who plan to partake in the plunge parade through the town. Another polar plunge in the UK is in England on Christmas day normally to raise money for charity. So grab a towel and a warm costume cause it’s gonna be a cold one!
Image via TorontoPolarBear.com
Like the United Kingdom, Canada also takes part in the Polar Bear Plunge to celebrate the coming of a new year. Thankfully, so far in Canada, the temperatures aren’t too low in comparison to past years!
3. United States
Photo © David Madison Photography
Plunges now take place across the United States. There are annual events in Seattle, Evergreen, Colorado, New York’s Coney Island Polar Bear Club, Lake George, NY, Boston (since 1904), Milwaukee’s Bradford Beach, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. Some of the plunges are done to raise funds for the Special Olympics, in fact, one of the largest polar bear plunge in the United States, is held annually at Sandy Point State Park in Maryland. In 2007, Plungapalooza managed to raise a whopping $2.2 million and had 7,400 participants. In 2008 there were about 4,600 more participants than the previous year, for a total of 12,000!
Image via Australian Traveller
Hundreds of swimmers brave near freezing temperatures and their own inhibitions to plunge naked into Australia’s Derwent River. At least 700 swimmers take part in Hobart’s nude swim to mark the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice.
Photo © Alexander Fritze – Nieuwjaarsduik Scheveningen 2010
Every New Year’s Day around 10,000 people dive collectively into the icy cold sea water at Scheveningen, a Dutch beach resort town, since 1960. In 89 locations on beaches and in lakes all over the country, each year around 30,000 people participate in this “Nieuwjaarsduik” (English: New Year’s dive), with a record 36,000 participants on January 1, 2012. Since 1998, Unox, a Unilever food brand often associated with winter, adopted the Nieuwjaarsduik and ever since it is tradition to wear Unox branded winter caps and gloves.
6. New Zealand
Polar Bear Swim at Omanu Beach. Mount College leukemia fundraiser. Bay of Plenty Times
Polar plunges (the local name) are held at various beaches in New Zealand, usually on the weekend closest to the shortest day in late June.
7. South Korea
An annual Polar Bear Swimming Contest takes place annually at the Haeundae Beach in Busan, South Korea.
The annual competition, which offers an exciting experience for participants to brave the cold and swim in the winter sea just like polar bears, was first held in commemoration of the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Other activities of the festival included making polar bear masks, face-painting, charity ice bucket challenges and tarot card readings.
Take the Polar Bear Plunge…
If you’re thinking about partaking in the Polar Bear Plunge and you live in one of these countries, find the Polar Bear Plunge near you! Are you someone who doesn’t live in one of these countries but enjoys to travel abroad? You can participate in this winter activity too! If you don’t live in one of these countries and you don’t travel, maybe try to organize a Polar Bear Plunge in your city this winter!