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St. John's Eve and Day (Jans vakars) (Latvia) Options
Daemon
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014 12:00:00 AM
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St. John's Eve and Day (Jans vakars) (Latvia)

This Midsummer festival is Latvia's greatest feast of the year. It begins on St. John's Eve, when boys and girls meet in the village squares; the young people gather flowers, herbs, and grasses to make wreaths that will be used in ceremonies the following day. They also practice Ligo songs, which are based on the traditional Latvian daina, a short, unrhymed song in which epic and lyric elements are mixed. Lighting bonfires is also a tradition on St. John's Night; young people jump over the fires in the belief that it will ensure a good harvest. More...
monamagda
Posted: Monday, June 23, 2014 6:44:09 AM

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The solstice since forever

The pagan festival that celebrates midsummer is mixed with the supposed birthday of Saint John the Baptist and turned into an evening when witches are burning.

Like Christmas Eve,(St John’s Eve) on 23 June is believed to originate in the prehistoric pagan rites of northern Europe that celebrated the shortest (winter solstice) and the longest (summer solstice) days of the year.

Meanwhile, from ancient times the celebration of Midsummer’s Eve has been linked to the summer solstice.

According to pagan thinking, midsummer's night was rife with magical natural powers, both bad and good. To ward off evil spirits, which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again, flaming bundles of straw were hurled into the air.

People furthermore believed the midsummer plants had miraculous and healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night.

Midsummer’s Day was the day when the medieval wise men and women (the doctors of the time) would gather the special herbs they needed for the rest of the year to cure people. Popular belief also said that all healing springs were particularly sacred and should be visited.
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