- Title: Berliners brave chilly lake waters for their annual Christmas Day swim
- Date: 25th December 2016
- Summary: BERLIN, GERMANY (DECEMBER 25, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF MINUTE OF SILENCE FOR VICTIMS OF BERLIN CHRISTMAS MARKET ATTACK
- Embargoed: 9th January 2017 11:50
- Keywords: Christmas traditions Oranke lake swim
- Location: BERLIN, GERMANY
- City: BERLIN, GERMANY
- Country: Germany
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0015EDQLI1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Unseasonably mild temperatures of five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) made the traditional Christmas Day swim in Berlin's Oranke lake less gruelling on Sunday (December 25) than it has been in past years.
About 30 Germans started the dip this year with a commemoration for the victims of the Berlin truck attack on Monday (December 19), when a lorry ploughed into a busy Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 and injuring many more. After a minute's silence, swimmers prepared to take the plunge by singing Christmas carols and getting Dutch courage from hot mulled wine.
But the head of the 'Berlin Seals' (Berliner Seehunde) swim club, Ursula Schwarz, said that despite the relatively high temperature for this time of year, the weather definitely wasn't 'mild'.
"It is always cold in winter. It is nonsense to say that it is mild. And because the air is very muggy today, chilly and damp, it is not that great as it is on a crisp winter's day, if the sun is shining and we have ice [on the lake]. It is much, much better then!" she said.
The tradition dates back to at least 1980 when the part of Berlin Oranke lake is in was still part of East Germany.
The 'Berlin Seals' prepare for their Christmas Day dip from the middle of September, when the 70-odd members start meeting for a dip every Sunday at 10 a.m. sharp.
Even thick layers of ice haven't put off the keenest in previous years, who took to making holes and jumping straight in to avoid breaking with tradition.
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