Polar Bear Plunge Day

Polar Bear Plunge Day is an unofficial holiday observed on the 1st of January each year. On this day, people all over the world head out to go swimming in the cold January waters.

Some people swim in these frigid waters because they want to feel the invigoration that can only come from being exposed to icy cold water, while others believe that it improves their physical stamina. Regardless of why a person chooses to observe this holiday, one thing is for certain: it’s going to be one very cold dip for anyone who decides to ice swim on this day.

The History of Polar Bear Plunge Day

People who swim during the cold winter months are called polar bears, and clubs catering to polar bear swimmers have existed in the United States for over a hundred years.

Many of these clubs have been practicing Polar Bear Plunge Day for many decades now. The oldest known observance of this holiday took place in 1904 when the L-Street Brownies—a polar bear club out of Boston, Massachusetts—took their first plunge.

Of course, while the first official Polar Bear Plunge Day was observed in 1904 in the U.S., people have been doing New Year’s Day swims in Scandinavia for hundreds of years.

In fact, ice swimming is very common in Nordic cultures and probably dates back to the Vikings. Nowadays, there are ice swimmers observing this holiday all over the U.S., Europe, and even parts of Asia.

Observing Polar Bear Plunge Day

The only requirement for observing this holiday is to head out to some ice-cold waters on January 1st and enjoy an icy swim. Of course, this isn’t an activity that should be done alone, nor should it be done by people with health problems.

For many people, ice swimming can also be performed to raise money for charity. Anyone still choosing to celebrate this holiday can first use the hashtag #PolarBearPlungeDay to let everyone know they’re taking the plunge.

When is it?
This year (2024)
January 1 Monday
Next year (2025)
January 1 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
January 1 Sunday