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24th of June

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Jan Jan | 17:12 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

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?

Friendly greetings,



  • Comment number 1.

    Hello, Jan!
    I am so happy to read your blog.I am Bulgarian and it's very interesting to read your opinion about Bulgaria. I didn't know that you have similar traditions in Russia on the 24th of June.It is believed in our country that if you roll in the grass at dew-fall early in the morning, you will be very healthy and strong.
    Thank you for your fascinating blog and be very healthy and happy!

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi, Jan... it's a nice post of you..
    Reading your post makes me know about your tradition on 24th of June.
    I have friend from Russia who now stays in Bali, Indonesia. But he never told me about this tradition.

    Well, Jan... I am from Indonesia. We have no such special tradition on 24th of June. But, you know that Indonesia consists of more than 200 tribes/ethnic and more than 17.000 islands. So, every place,every ethnic has their own traditions, that are held in their own belief, and also with the messages and special meaning of the tradition.

    So, these things perfectly make me sure that this world is just so beautiful with these diversities of culture and tradition.

    Nice post, and keep the good work.
    Regards from Indonesia! ^_^

  • Comment number 3.

    Hello, Jan,
    It's always fascinating to hear and read and see photos of customs and traditions in different countries, and it's always very interesting to read your blogs!! In Austria we celebrate summmer solstice on 21 June, by the way. That is, if we celebrate at all. I remember in the village where I grew up we used to have a big fire around that time. The original intention was probably to burn all the remainders of the dark winter season and to ward off threats to the summer's harvest. We also used to burn a large straw puppet in the bonfire, and when it had burned down low enough, the young people would jump over the fire. When we walked home after the fire, we would watch out for glowworms. Nice memories, but where I live now, near Vienna, there are no fires and no celebrations. As will be the case everywhere, these things are largely confined to rural areas. Sadly, even there one sometimes gets the impression that it's for the sake of tourism only that the old customs are preserved - with showy, commercially oriented elements being added to the original thing. But I'm touching a different issue there - the blessing and the curse of tourism, which is not our subject here.

    I'd just like to add that you probably wanted to say that Russia and Bulgaria both are Slavic countries. Slovenian refers to the very nice little country (south of my own little country), Slovenia. Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone.

    All the best,

  • Comment number 4.

    Hello, Jan!
    I'm from Brazil and here we have commemorations like you related.
    There is much food and fires. Ok. I want to continue but my English is little and poor...

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Elisabeth!

    Thanks for help! You're right, I mean, Russia and Bulgaria both are Slavic countries.

    Good day!


  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Jan, thanks for interesting post. Actually, I think you have facinating traditions in your country. In Egypt, our traditions are totally different from yours.

    I would like to add that I didn't do any thing special last 24th of june as my work keeps me so busy all the time but I hope to get some spare time soon so, I could have some fun.

    By the way, this is my first time I comment in this useful blog and I hope to learn a lot.
    Best regards,

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Jan
    I love this fest. It is one of a small number that has no connection with politics. Its roots are on a nature and lay far in the time so nobody associated this fest with Christian Church. It’s a fest for everybody. You can celebrate it if you are Christian, Muslim and Buddhist or have your own God, if you are black, white or speckled.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good day Jan,
    A very knowledgeable entry. I really enjoy reading your blog on this particular topic. I think, this is such an event that celebrates by most people in the european countries. I'm currently staying Denmark, and managed to watch (for the first time in my life) such a beautiful event which i think is the same with the one that you celebrate in Russia. They called it Sankt Hans Eve or midsummer. Sankt Hans Eve, was originally a pagan festival, where the year's shortest and longest day was celebrated. And some said, it is to remember the 'witch burning' tragedy that happened many decades ago. However, the event here wasn't as big as what you have in Russia or people in Bulgaria. There's no traditional customs or dance. People just gathered around, chatting, eating, grilling foods and have a small picnic with their families and friends and wait till 9.30 p.m to start singing their traditional song. But I did enjoy seeing the celebration. It was a memorable experience =)
    p/s :Oh by the way, i am from Brunei and i'm not sure if there's any asian country celebrate Saint John feast.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Jan,
    I never paid attention to the summer solstice before I saw this post. Then I go to ask the goole.I found that some races will celebrate it.Summer solstice is not a very important fest in our country.But the winter solstice is an important fest.So we just celebrate the winter solstice.

    Best wishes,


  • Comment number 10.

    Hi Jan,

    Fascinating! This message is really informative. This is the fist time I have heard about this tradition. I really love learning about other cultures. We don't do anything on 24th of June but here in Northern Ireland last week we had a multicultural event. It involved people from different cultures (chinese, indian, irish, scotish)doing something at this event. There were quite a lot of dances, music and singing and food at the end. It was really an interesting event.

    Take care




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