24th of June
On June 24 Christian and Catholic Churches feast the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. Also today is a summer solstice. The sun has a magical reviving power. They say, it rises earlier, stays in the sky longer and as from that day begins to die. That's way in many countries people celebrate this day as an ancient pagan holiday. In Russia we call it «Kupala day», in honor of ancient pagan god of midsummer. And in Bulgaria the name of this day is «Enyovden». It bears the name of Enyov, which means Ivan or John. As you know, Bulgaria and Russia are both Slavic countries, that's why we have quite similar traditions, connected with this day.
All customs connect with water, herbs and fire. And all divinations are about marriage, health, wealth and fertility. But there is an interesting difference between Russian and Bulgarian ceremonies.
According to custom, on this day is the rule to tell fortunes by the water. Russian young girls make wreaths, light a splinter and put them in a river or in a lake. If the wreath sinks immediately, it means that the beloved boy will fall out of love and won't get married with the girl, which this wreath belongs to. Who's wreath sails farther, that girl will be the happiest, and who's splinter is alight longer, that girl will live a full long life. In Bulgaria they have the same custom. But there is one difference. Bulgarians believe that the water on this day is healing. And it's good to drink it and swim today. Whereas Russians think that it's dangerous to swim because of Neptune, who doesn't like guests and can put them in his kingdom in the bottom. In over words, people can drown.
Other custom connects with herbs. Today people pick up herbs and then dry them up. During a year they are used for health if someone is ill. In Russia there is one mystical ceremony. They say, that only in Kupala's night a fern flowers. And if some lucky person will find it, the fern will show the way to the treasure, no matter how deep it's buried under the ground. In Bulgarian culture instead of fern, a blue light shoots up from the ground and shows the way to the treasure. It's a quite funny, but statistics shows that after this night the fertility increases.
As for fire, people say it has a purifying power. I haven't hurt anything about it in Bulgarian customs. But Russian people usually light the fires when it gets dark and jump over it.
Also we have one game, which name is «gorelki». Girls and boys stay in couples and form a column. The host stays in front of the column. Last couple runs along the column, one of them on the right side and other on the left side. If host marks someone of them with coal stick, the host and this marked person form a couple. And the other person becomes a host. If the host couldn't mark anyone, the couple stays in the beginning of the column. And the game is going on.
At the end of the day people just have fun, dancing and singing national songs. Both in Bulgaria and in Russia!
As you see, there are lot's of similar traditions, which means that we were really close in the past. And I think that we have to try to be closer in the future!
PS: What about your country? Have you got any holiday on 24th of June?