July 5, 2022

St. John, Midsummer - a holiday celebrated on the night of June 23/24 on the eve of St. John the Baptist, which is an attempt by Christianity to assimilate pagan rites related to the summer solstice of the sun. In Orthodox rituals, the eve of St. John falls on June 23 according to the calendar used by the appropriate church and precedes the feast of the Nativity of the prophet John the Baptist. In the East Slavic tradition, the feast of Ivan Kupala (Ukrainian: Свято Івана Купала; Russian: Иван Купала) is celebrated mainly in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia on June 23 according to the Julian calendar, i.e. on July 6 according to the Gregorian calendar. It has many borrowings from the earlier pagan holiday, the so-called Kupała Nights. In Anglo-Saxon countries under the name of Midsummer, in the Germanic Mittsommerfest. In Poland, the Catholic Church, unable to eradicate the annual celebration of the pagan Saturday (Kupała Night) from the folk customs, attempted to assimilate the holiday with Christian rituals.

Beginnings of the custom

A feast and a custom of a similar nature existed in the territory of historical Italy, where it was called Sobatina in honor of the goddess Pales, in Pannonia a palilia. In Celtic culture, Beltane ("the return of the sun") and the ritual of making sacrifices from Wierzbin are associated with it. Every year on June 21, crowds of pilgrimages come to Stonehenge to observe the first ray of the rising sun.


Depending on the region, the main ritual of the adapted rite included (should): burning fire (e.g. in the south of Poland), in Małopolska, Silesia and Pomerania - the so-called sobótka, in Warmia and Masuria Palinocka or midsummer, incl. in the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon countries as well as Wielkopolska and historical West Pomerania, fire jumping (e.g. Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia), burning the effigy (e.g. Ireland, France, southern Poland, Ukraine), girls' dances around a fire lit at night (e.g. Belarus, Podlasie), the rite of throwing wreaths over the head on trees (e.g. historical Wielkopolska, Pomerania, Warmia and Mazury), running wreaths on the water (e.g. Kraków / Wianki, Mazowsze, Russia), bathing (e.g. Belarus), crowning with greenery (e.g. Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Russia etc.). On June 23-24, the Christmas Eve of St. John, the so-called rite of blessing water. The sequences and hymns of St.John, which came to Poland from the West, were also used in the church liturgy. In Christian churches it is also the period of blessing medicinal herbs. The herbs are obligatorily blessed with St. John's wort, thyme and garden flowers. John's wort, used in folk medicine and magical practices, had a double name: witch's herb or locust. The fern kept in the room was also supposed to help with the disease. In the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, the feast of John the Baptist is also called "herbal day or evening". On the eve of St. John, in the villages of the San basin, the proverb "Na św. The brand is sowing the last oats, the first tartar ”. The midsummer tradition in Poland also has outstanding social features, continued to this day.

See also

Kupała Night A Midsummer Night's Dream