Every year at Lake Bled, Slovenia, divers go on a quest to recover the bell that ended up on the bottom of the lake, in front of a crowd of numerous visitors cheer them on from the lake shore.
According to the legend, around the year 1500, the lord of Lake Bled at the time, Hartman Kreigh, disappeared.
People said that he may have been killed by robbers and his body was thrown into the lake. At the Bled Castle, Poliksena, also known as the lady of the lake, and his young wife mourned him.
In her inconsolable sadness, she collected all of the gold and silver that she and her husband kept in the castle, and then she ordered that this treasure be melted down and turned into a bell for the chapel on the island of Lake Bled, so that the bell would toll in remembrance of her husband.
However, when the bell was being transported to the island, a storm broke out and the boat sank together with the boatmen and its precious bell.
The desperate widow sold all her property after this accident. She offered the proceeds for the construction of a new church on the island, then she left Bled and lived the rest of her life in a convent in Rome, as a nun.
After her death, when the Pope heard her story, included her misfortune and her good deeds during her life as a nun, so he ordered that a new bell be made and placed in the steeple of the church on Bled Island.
It is said that the bell have been given to the island by the Pope himself, and he said that anyone that rings the bell three times and believes in God, his or her wish would come true.
It seems that it still has special powers today, so visitors and many newly-weds ring the bell in hopes of fulfilling their own wishes.
Legend has it that the bell that sank to the bottom of Lake still occasionally rings, and today sometimes, on a dark night it seems you can hear the sunken bell ringing from the depths of the lake!
In order to show that the bell is still in the lake, divers recover it from the water at a special event that takes place every year, on Christmas Day.
Jump in the water for Christmas, in Slovenia, is a usual tradition.
On Christmas and New Year’s Day, divers and swimmers like to test their endurance in water. There are also organized events for brave swimmers at the main beach in Portorož, in the River Savinja in Celje, in the River Krka in Dolenjska, and elsewhere.
On New Year’s Day, divers open their season at Lake Velenje, where they also have to make a toast underwater!