Ivan Kupala’s Night is celebrated in various countries of Eastern Europe, particularly in Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. This is usually between the 23th and 24th June, according to the Gregorian calendar, or between the 6th and 7th of July, according to the Julian one, still used by many Orthodox churches. The anniversary is linked to an ancient pagan midsummer festival, marking the shortest night of the year, at the end of which the days begin to shorten again. It finds its opposite in the Korocun festival, linked to the winter solstice. Each country has its own celebrations and traditions, which makes this night even more varied and interesting!
The festival is the right occasion to meet your life partner: men line up and women touch the shoulder of the one they are in love with and runa way. Men must chase them and take “his own bride”, hold her hand and jump together on the fire, sanctifying their union. At the end of the ritual some games begin. Women dress in ribbons and flowers, with their heads crowned with birch branches and men have to “steal” the decorations and ornaments from girls. After this, they go to the forest to find a special and very rare plant, the fern. In fact, it is believed that the night of Kupala is the only time of the year when the flower blooms and, whoever finds it, will be happy and prosper for the rest of his life.
Despite the celebrations, Ivan Kupala is also the night of evil spirits. Rituals are believed to protect homes and loved ones. The fire has a special meaning, precisely because it is believed that fire can exile all evil and free a person from all negativity. For this reason, jumping on the fire is one of the fundamental rites of this night.