The evocative rites of St. John’s night in the world, among magical powers, flowers and herbs

Kupalo Festival, Enyovden, Drăgaica, Kresna noč, St. John’s Night, each village names it and celebrates it differently. But what unites all the traditions of the world is the magic of this very special occasion, which is celebrated between the 23rd and the 24th of June.

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From Eastern Europe to northern Europe there is a swarm of propitiatory rituals of pagan origin. There are those who celebrate it by lighting bonfires, those who dance and sing around the fire, those who purify themselves in the water of streams and lakes, those who wear beautiful garlands of flowers. And of course, there is no shortage of herbs that, on this special night, are said to be more magical than ever.

Here are some of them the most interesting traditions in the world on the night of St. John.


Big bonfires are also inevitable in Denmark on the night of June 23, which is called “St. Hans AftenThe Danes throw twigs and the effigy of a witch into the fire to ward off evil spirits. While during the day it is celebrated with a party with local food and drinks.

A popular belief states that the time of Sankthans, which corresponds to June 24, indicates how the weather will be during the rest of the year.


In Ukraine, the night of St. John is called “Festival of Cupala “or” Night of Ivan Kupala “, an ancient pagan festival linked to the summer solstice. It is actually celebrated not only in Ukraine but also in other Slavic countries and the date can be June 23 (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia) or the night between July 6 and 7 (Belarus, Ukraine, Russia) according to the calendar. Julia.

But let’s start by finding out who Kupalo is. According to the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, he was considered the god of love and harvest, the personification of fertility, who reveals his secrets only at this time of year.

On this special occasion, single men and women gathered in the woods or near streams, lighting “Kupalo fires,” around which they danced, jumped, played, and sang. The boys often submerged themselves in the water to purify themselves and burned the herbs collected the year before in the fires, which they had to put out themselves.

The female participants, as is still the case today, wore herbs and aromatic flowers, adorning their hair with beautiful garlands. The latter were then put in the water to find out the fate of the bearer. According to some traditions, if you weave a wreath of wildflowers while asking for a wish, and leave it in the river, you will be able to find out if the wish will come true. How? If the garland floats, the wish will come true, if it returns to the shore or sinks, it will not pass.

Here, too, special importance is given to the collection of herbs on the night of Kupalo, as they are believed to protect against evil and can even cure diseases.


It is celebrated in Bulgaria Enyovden, always of pagan origin. According to reports from Bulgaria Wine Tours, in the morning of Enyovden you have to wash with running water or with that dew water because it is considered healing. And the herbs harvested at dawn that day are also considered just as powerful.

According to tradition, Bulgarians would have to pick up 77 and a half and weave them into a wreath to hang on the front door. The “middle” medicinal plant is considered the unknown plant, which no one can recognize but to which very special healing powers are attributed.

There are several rituals, one of which consists of unmarried girls dropping bouquets of flowers and rings into a jug of water on the eve of Enyovden, water called “silent” by its special powers, guarded by a fortune teller all night. The next morning a girl dressed as a bride and with her eyes blindfolded, takes off her rings and preaches to the future husbands of the other girls.

Many rituals used to involve the use of wine, and wine and herbs are still used today, also because this drink is believed to have the power to connect humans with the gods.


Romania-Insider explains Dear Sânziene is a pagan festival held on June 24 dedicated to nature and fertility. The “Sânziene” festival is said to have originated from the worship of the Roman goddess Diana, Sânziana, although the name of the celebration is associated with a flower called “Sânziană” with a sweet, white or yellow scent, which blooms. in this period. . But in other places the recurrence is also called Drăgaica, of a Slavic tradition.

Legend has it that the Sânzienele are fairies capable of giving magical powers to flowers and herbs at this special time. It is also believed that young women can dream of their future husband if they put Sanziană flowers under the pillows on St. John’s night.

On this occasion, in some Romanian villages, the girls dance in a circle in a traditional folk dance, called “Hora Dragaicelor”, during which everyone holds hands. The night of June 23-24 is considered magical and it is believed that miracles can only occur at this time of year.


Northern Europe also celebrates St. John’s night, from Sweden to Finland, from Norway to Denmark.

In Sweden the festival is called “Midsommar“, As Sweden specifies. Swedes usually wear wreaths of wildflowers called” midsommarkrans “, raise sticks decorated with flowers and leaves called” midsommarstang “.make pickled herring picnics, boiled fresh potatoes and local specialties.

We sing, we dance around the pole, we drink. The traditional dance called “Små grodarna” is curious, during which you have to jump like a frog.

In agricultural times, the festival was held to welcome summer and in some areas men dressed up as “green men” with ferns all over their bodies, while houses and farm tools were decorated with leaves.


In Finland, “Juhannus” is celebrated by lighting large bonfires that serve to ward off evil spirits and promote the summer harvest. Here, legend has it that the more noise a Finn makes during the party, the luckier he will be during the year. And the more you drink, the better your harvest will be.

Finns usually celebrate it in the countryside with friends and family, barbecues are organized, fishing excursions, boat excursions. A popular belief states that “if a girl puts seven freshly picked flowers under her pillow before falling asleep on the day of the summer solstice, she will be able to dream of her future boyfriend.“.


In Estonia, according to reports from Estonian World, this holiday is called “Jaanipäev“, Day of Jaan or San Juan, and counts on the traditional propitiatory bonfires the night of the 23 of June. It is said that not lighting them is a bad omen and according to tradition jumping on the fire brings good luck. It is also said that the bigger the fire, the more evil spirits will stay away.

Estonians love to get together as a family in the countryside on this occasion and celebrate it with songs and dances. Traditions are similar to those of Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, and Sweden.


Brazil, throughout the month of June, celebrates the so-called “Festa Junina“Brought here by the Portuguese in the 16th century, according to the Brazilian school. It is not really the feast of St. John because it includes numerous celebrations in honor of three saints, St. Anthony, St. John and St. Peter. Of these 3, San Giovanni is celebrated on June 24.

The Festa Junina includes bonfires, traditional dishes especially based on corn, games, jokes, dances. It is a festival that celebrates the harvest and for this reason many events are characterized by the rural theme. For example, folk dress often has a rural style and the food is traditional in the countryside, such as fubá bolo, curau, cocada de colher.

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