Starting the new year with a cold, icy plunge

January 1 is usually the start of all things new with resolutions, motivation, and inspiration to become a better, healthier you.

It's also the first day of the year where some people from the Western side of the world plunge into freezing cold waters to welcome in the new year.

In Europe - from the Netherlands to Scotland - to US states such as New York and California, and Canada, thousands of people flock to the seaside for an ocean swim in temperatures as low as four degrees Celsius.

Winter air temperatures can go as low as two degrees too.

The Coney Island Polar Bear Club in New York has been meeting for ice bathing on New Year's day since 1903, reported The New York Times.

Scenes on the beach look like crowds on a summer day - complete with participants in their swim wear.

Some dress in costume such as polar bears, the Hulk, Darth Vader, or warrior princesses.

Videos on social media platform Snapchat showed many screaming in cold delight as they took their, sometimes, first plunge.

The New Year's day event has become a tradition in cities and towns across Canada, reported Xinhua. The first such event took place in Vancouver in 1920.

Many view the plunge as a way to start the new year on a high by washing away their troubles from the year before - something like a cleansing ritual.

View the photos in the gallery to see their expressions.

spanaech@sph.com.sg