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The Boston Globe


In winter swims, the pain is real

But some find a sort of high in old ritual

When the human body plunges ­into the January waters of the Massachusetts coast, as more and more people do each New Year’s Day, it will race through all sorts of painful physical stages in the first minute. Surviving that pain, those who have come out of the water say, is the point. And, maybe, the pleasure.

The ritual of dunking oneself in icy water is ancient, found throughout the world’s cultures, and has been going on for millennia in Massachusetts, courtesy of the Wampanoag, who are thought to have participated in dousing rituals as far back as 5000 BC.

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