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St. John's Day (June 24th)

In ancient times, this day was an occasion to pay homage to water, fire and plants. It was also a time to cleanse one's soul as well as to celebrate the summer solstice. However, over time, this holiday lost most of its sacral meaning and only its various festive elements remained. Traditionally, people gathered in beautiful spots such as on hilltops or by rivers to feast and honor men named John (Jonas). A large bonfire and wheel hub on a post were set afire. It was thought that the wider the area that was illuminated by the fire, the better the harvest would be. Young people gathered grasses with which they predicted their futures. Girls also wore wreaths and later set them afloat on rivers and lakes to find out if they would marry or not in the following year. Unmarried young men and women sang, danced and jumped over the remains of the bonfire until daybreak. St. John's Day dew was thought to have many magical healing properties. The dew was also used by village sorceresses for malevolent purposes - for preventing cows from giving milk.



next previous contents
Next: Haymaking Previous: Whitsunday (The Seventh Sunday after Easter)

"LITHUANIAN ROOTS", Edited by Rytis Ambrazevicius


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