Ivan Kupala: the traditions of the main Slavic holiday in July
The most joyful night in July is the night of Ivan Kupala. The traditions of this day are still alive in the memory of people. What did the ancestors beware of at this time and how did they protect themselves from the evil forces?
The holiday of Ivan Kupala has very ancient roots. Its original pagan name is very difficult to restore. Once it was celebrated on June 24, but with the adoption of the new Gregorian calendar, Kupalu was celebrated on July 7.
Slavic and Christian history of the holiday of Kupala
In the minds of our ancestors, Ivan Kupala was timed to coincide with an astronomical event, which the Slavs believed had tremendous power and energy. This event was summer solstice. The Slavs had a widespread and strongly developed cult of the sun, because the heat was vital for them to practice agriculture.
From here and other names of the holiday, for example, Yarilin day or just Yarilo.
The Orthodox Church made a lot of efforts to ban this holiday, but it became so popular with the people that ceremonies were held even in the 19th century. Moreover, folk festivals and festivals are organized in some cities and in our days.
In Orthodoxy, the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated on this day. Thus, the holiday of Ivan Kupala gradually acquired Christian features. Scientists suggest that the image of Kupala was associated with the image of John the Baptist, and the pagan celebration dedicated to the Sun, which the Slavs greatly honored, was united in their presentation with another bright image.
At the same time, a multitude of beliefs in lower mythological creatures, such as mermaids, witches, brownies, and goblins, reinforced the significance and necessity of rituals. And the rite of ablution, adopted in Christianity, was close and clear to our ancestors.
Traditions of Ivan Kupala
According to some scientists, the traditions of this holiday in the most historically accurate version are preserved in Belarus. In many ways, they are still alive in the memory of all those peoples who were once Eastern Slavs. Folk legends connect Kupala with three forces — this fire, water and grass.
Water. The traditional beliefs included, for example, walks of mermaids on the ground. It was believed that in the summer they left the water. For them, they were specially decorated with birch ribbons, they made swings from their branches.
For this reason, tried to swim in Kupala until dark. In the warmer, southern regions, bathed in large quantities in rivers and lakes, closer to the north, where it is cooler, could heat baths for this purpose. After all, there could not worry that a person will fall under the bad influence of drowned women.
Water had a very great ceremonial significance. Interestingly, in fact, the night of Ivan Kupala and the festivities themselves fall not on July 7 itself, but on the night of that day, that is, from the 6th to the 7th. And on July 6, in the folk calendar, he was named Agrafena Kupalnitsa, which is clearly not just an accident.
The whole day before Ivan Kupala was busy preparing for the night’s fun. Also in many places, the youth poured muddy water or mud on each other, and then they all went to wash in the river together. Since the energy of this day is so high, you can plot on the water to attract female sexuality.
The fire. The second, no less important element of this day. They burned huge bonfires while at the same time extracting fire by rubbing wood against wood. Around the fires they performed round dances, jumped through them, cleaning themselves from possible ailments and protecting them from evil forces.
It was believed that a woman or girl who would not come out to the fire and would not jump over it was almost certainly a witch. Such a cleansing power was attributed to the flame.
On the territory of today’s Belarus and Ukraine, young girls and boys jumped over bonfires together holding hands. It was an old Kupala love fortune telling: if the young hands open, then the marriage between them will not be the most successful. If together they have overcome an obstacle, then the family of them will turn out quite prosperous and strong.
Herbs. No less important rite was considered the collection of herbs. They believed that they were endowed with a special power precisely on the night of Ivan Kupala.
Since the holiday was associated with the flowering of summer and the warmest days, it was believed that the plants are located in the juice itself. On Kupala, the collection of healing herbs begins, at this time medicinal infusions insist, dry and prepare raw materials for them.
The most famous folk belief on Kupala is, of course, the fern bloom that night. In nature, the fern does not bloom, but popular rumor stubbornly states: a lucky man could get a mysterious flower, and then he would give him magical power. A fern flower can point to a treasure, teach witchcraft, bestow strength, but for this it was necessary to have time to pick it at midnight.
Other herbs are strong in Kupala. For example, wormwood and nettle that drive away evil spirits. In many villages, they were torn and stuck near the windows, thresholds and doors, so that the evil forces did not sneak into the house.
And from beautiful and bright flowers weaving wreaths.
An extremely important tradition was the remembrance of the ancestors. Sometimes for this, the girls would gather together to sing and grind the barley. Subsequently, the day before Ivan Kupala, porridge was made of it, which was fed to beggars and divided between themselves and their families. Sometimes they refused such a piece of paper, and the family made such a dish only for themselves.
It was called a vow of cereal.
And in the 20th century, Kupalu is remembered and often celebrated. The increased energy of herbs has a particularly positive effect on the compilation of various infusions or, for example, tonic collection. Therefore, if you have a cottage on which celandine, mint, chamomile or other useful herbs grow, do not miss Kupala on July 7th. And do not forget to press the buttons and