The night of June 23 is the shortest night of the year. It is believed that this night is magical, that the sorcery and spells come true, and that herbs collected from the meadows acquire special healing powers. Since ancient times, this was a Midsummer night, locally called Rasos feast, when the Lithuanians were singing, dancing and celebrating till dawn.
The biggest uproar of St. John's
Once upon a time the Balts Lithuanians celebrated the feast of Rasos, made sacrifices to pagan gods, and priestesses incited the altar fire. Only when Christianity came to Lithuania, this festival was identified with St. John name-day and since then was called Joninės (St. John's). However, although the name has changed, the old festival traditions, spells, and fun still remains the same.
Every year, the shortest night of the year sees no darkness – when the sun hides behind the horizon for just a few hours, the Lithuania is illuminated by the flames of bonfires rising high into the skies. According to the old traditions and customs the Midsummer Festival is celebrated in every village or town, and the biggest celebrations are going on in Kernavė, on Rambynas hill, or in Jonava, which is often referred to as the Lithuanian capital city of all Jonas and Janina (“Johns and Janes”). Here, crowds of people adorned with wild flower wreaths and linen clothes come for celebration, songs and fun continues till dawn, everyone is trying to find a flower of fern, and dancing without sparing their feet or shoes.
Find a flower of fern and become a visionary
The biggest miracle of the midsummer night is a fern that blooms at midnight. It is believed that the lucky one who finds a bloom of fern, can become a clairvoyant and can hear other people's thoughts, know all secrets, and understand the language of birds. These skills bring wealth and happiness.
The collected herbs give magic powers
It is also believed that the herbs collected on the longest day of the year have extraordinary, miraculous powers. Girls dressed in white linen clothes collect nine types of grassland herbs, to adorn the homes, and make a special decoration – Kupole – and wreaths. Wreaths are then used to adorn their heads, and later to predict the future. It is also believed that the herbs collected on this night, enchanted with women’s singing and charms, acquire special powers of healing and the tea made all year round will chase away all kinds of diseases, and scare off all the pain.
Roll in magical dew to have a good harvest
It is believed that the magical dew falls in this night. It was collected in old times and given for the cows, to improve milk. People sprinkled gardens with it, to be fertile, and prevent weeds.
It was also believed that a farmer will get a good harvest if he runs naked around his fields on that night and then rolls in the morning dew. In addition, it was believed that the further the bonfires arranged on the hill illuminate the fields, the better the harvest will be in the autumn.
Flower wreaths foretell the future love
Unmarried girls used wreaths for wedding sorcery: they would drop it on a tree, and how many times they drop – after so many years they would expect to marry. At midnight, lovers let two wreaths floating in the river or a lake. It is believed that if the wreaths move in the opposite directions – the lovers will separate, but if they come together – you can expect a wedding.
Before midnight, the girls were advised to dig a piece of turf in the garden and see what beetle comes out of it in the morning: the gray would mean that her husband will be a poor, simple man, the peckled – the husband will be an official or military officer, and if the green – a farmer.
Young couples hold their hands and jump over bonfires in a Midsummer night. It is believed that if you jump together, you will live all your life together.