On June 23, a holiday is celebrated that has long-standing pagan roots, which the peoples of Europe still celebrate. In different countries, it is called differently. In Norway, the holiday is named after John the Baptist — Jonsok. Another name for the holiday — Jonsvaka ( Jonsvoko ) — is formed on behalf of Johan and the verb vake — « watch ».
This is no coincidence: it was believed that on Ivanov night ( the night on the eve of the Christmas of John the Baptist ) you can’t sleep until dawn — not only because you can hear the singing of elves, but first of all, for the purpose of the coast for the whole coming year.
Celebrations in honor of the holiday began in the evening and lasted all night, ending with a meeting of the dawn of the — rising sun. Until 1770, Ivanov's day was an official holiday. Its abolition, however, was not an occasion for the people to cool to it, — on the contrary, Ivanov's night remained a favorite public holiday. Compared to Christmas and Easter, this holiday has much less relation to church celebrations. Most of the ancient pagan customs are associated precisely with Ivanova at night.
Perhaps the main tradition dedicated to Ivanovaya Nights, — fomenting bonfires. Since ancient times, people have believed that fire can protect against evil forces. Fire — the strongest and most effective cleansing element: everything dirty and outdated can burn in it, but the fire itself always remains clean. Bonfires in Ivanov lit a night in several ways.
The fire itself was called « to help » the sun to overcome the top of the sky, it symbolized the victory of light over darkness. By lighting a fire and supporting it until the morning, people seemed to welcome the new sun. The peasants tried to make the fire as much as possible, it was considered a matter of honor. On this occasion, often held competitions — in which the flame is higher and brighter. As a rule, several yards or farms gathered at a common bonfire, where old and young took part in the preparation of a large fire.
In many countries, the custom of jumping over a fire is still common, such games were perceived as a necessary rite of purification. It is customary to place a high vent over the bonfire, decorated with wreaths and leaves or crowned with a wheel. Burning the railroad, marking the departure of all the old and obsolete. This is one of the most solemn moments of the holiday.
Of course, Ivanov night — the most fun folk holiday. This is a moment of the highest joy and fun, when a person feels united with nature, with the outside world. And if everything blooms around, then how not to sing and not have fun? Screams, gun shots and loud songs mark the beginning of the holiday. Noisy celebrations subside until dawn. The main treat is sweet milk porridge rommegrot. It does not cost Ivanov night and without libations, which in ancient times also had a sacred meaning, committing itself to the glory of the gods.
Of course, today many of these customs are either forgotten or committed purely formally. However, the holiday is alive and still embodies the triumph of summer, fertility, the flourishing of vitality.