Slavic holiday Ivana Kupala: history and traditions

Ivana Kupala is a Ukrainian summer fest where love, magic, happiness, pagan and Christian traditions are combined. So what is …

Ivana Kupala is a Ukrainian summer fest where love, magic, happiness, pagan and Christian traditions are combined. So what is this Slavic holiday for and why is it so special?

930157 02.07.2011 Девушки во время празднования Ивана Купалы на берегу озера Ильмень. Константин Чалабов/РИА Новости

John the bather day

‘John the bather day’ is the feast day of John the Baptist. People celebrate it in most European countries, on June 24th (July 7th by Julian calendar). In keeping with Christian canons, this is a day to honor Saint John who was the Godfather of Jesus Christ. Celebratory traditions of this day are incredibly similar in different countries of Europe. It originates from the pagan past of European people, which celebrated the arrival of the summer solstice. Slavic believe that Kupalo, god of the solstice, love and harvest. They personify him as the earth’s fertility, with many rites of this holiday connected with water, fertility, and purification. On this day, fire and water have sacral and purifying qualities.

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Couples

After conversion of Rus into Christianity, Ivan Kupala day was appropriated and combined with the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The two holidays blended together, just as the name connected both John (Ivan) the Baptist and the old Pagan god Kupalo. This is a feast of youth, beauty, loving hearts, spells of love and natural effects. Girls on this day make various drinks or potions; give them to guys to drink. After they jump together over the fire while holding their hand tightly. If they manage not to separate their hands during the jump, this will bring big happiness to the couple. Most likely show they will stay together forever.

Венок-на-ивана-купала

Singles

As for single young girls, they gather in groups, where each puts beautiful flower garland on the river, that is later on guys have to catch on the other side. A girl whose wreath a guy peaks might eventually become his loved one. A vital constituent of Ukrainians in forging their cultural identity is a natural desire to connect to their forefathers by celebrating Kupala day. You should definitely visit the country in July someday to become a part of it!

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