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The Summer Solstice / The Feast of St. John

FeuerThe longest day of the year and the shortest night (In the Northern hemisphere) and the beginning of the summer on the 22nd of June has been the reason for many joyful festivals in many different cultures. The Germanic peoples and the Celts would light fires every year to honour the sun and sing, drink and dance around the burning fire and celebrated the summer solstice. In Scandinavian countries and in the Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia people still celebrate the midsummer’s night festival, which can often last several days.

Christianity took over the custom and made it the Feast of St John, the day which celebrated the birth of St John. As a result, many customs have continued, such has jumping over the fire, a custom which is believed to bring couples good luck and a happy life together. Weeds are thrown into the fire so that they do not cause damage to fields and gardens. Spirits and demons are believed to go about causing mischief and must be cast out with wreaths made out of herbs.