Joninės, Jans, Sankthans, Jonsok, Noc Kupaly, or in one word, that everyone knows, Midsummer – is one of the most important occasions in northern countries during the summer. It‘s the collision of both pagan and Christian customs, that solemnize summer and fertility through the centuries up until this day.
We all celebrate the same festive, but there‘s some differences in going from country to country. If you happen to end up in nordic countries on Midsummer, I do guarantee, you‘ll witness a lot of singing, dancing and eating (and drinking). Since it‘s the period of time centered upon summer solstice, and the nights at this point is short or almost non-existant, people celebrate until morning.It‘s a big tradition to make wreaths on Midsummer and to wear it through the whole celebration. And you‘re the lucky one if your name is John, or any other non-english version of the name. Goes fr the girls as well.
Water has a big meaning on this occasion in Lithuania. Besides the fact, that it alsways rain on Midsummer, it also helps nature to bloom, brings luck. So people, at the end of the evening, always put their wreaths into the lakes or rivers, to have happy and healthy year.
Lithuanians, we have a national holiday on Midsummer. No exceptions, everyone gather together and celebrate. My cousin, who is 10 month old and my grandma, who is 70, will be next to me on the longest night. We start the bonfires, listen to folklore music and dance. It‘s also a tradition for people to jump through the bonfires in the end of the evening.
A lot of superstitions stillsurrounds this holiday. On midsummer nights people are going into the woods looking for the fern blossom, which should bring the luck for next year for the one, who would find it (don‘t be tricked, it doesn‘t bloom). Witches, trolls and gnoms are believed to walk in the forests on this night. The ones, who swimm in the waters are believed to be healthy and wealthy for the whole next year. The herbs collected on Midsummer‘s morning has a special remedy powers and there are so much more believes about Midsummer day‘s magic.
In Sweden Midsummer is the second most important celebration after Christmas. You won‘t find sweds in the city during the Midsummer, everyone is in the countryside, surrounded by birds, trees and water. After making their garlands all starts the lunch with lots of potatoes, meat and nubbe (swedish vodka). When food is finished, maypole comes to the center of attention. When it‘s in the place, dancing starts. Everyone dance the „Little frog dance“. They gather around the maypole, hold their hands behind their backs and starts jumping like frogs while singing songs. Might be a bit strange as a first time spectator, but it‘s definitely entertaining and if you join in you‘ll gonna have hell of a fun.
After filling themselves with carbs while eating the desserts, swedish people are engaging in the physical activities. Tugs of war, horseshoe tossing, egg and spoon races, boot throwing or apple bobbing would be the choices. And then the barbecue starts. It‘s everybody’s own preference how they want to end the evening, weather having a quite night, a sauna, take a swimm, a few more drinks, reflection of the day or they can hit the dance floor!