Kupala Night, Midsummer, Solstice

Light lasts far into the evening and deepens the green of the grass and ferns at the wood's edge to a rich emerald. There lies a cool darkness as I look into the dark woods. Trills of birdsong echo off the trees as creatures settle down for the night. Lightning bugs take flight, dancing upwards from the wildflowers: daisy, clover, buttercups. The pinks and purples of geranium, dianthus, columbine, rose, sage and iris bloom electric in the twilight. Deep pinks and emeralds play together as exquisite opposites.

Midsummer night is here. In Slavic countries Kupala night is celebrated.

Here is a photo and a video of what happens in Poznan, Poland on Kupala night. Thousands of lanterns are lit with fire and float away into the twilight sky. Beautiful isn't it?

Kupala is a Slavic holiday celebrated in Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Originally it was a pagan fertility rite, celebrated in June on the longest day of the year. Kupala celebrates the summer solstice. Midsummer night is the festivity of unity, the congress of fire and water, Sun and Moon, man and woman, fertility and harvest, and joy and love. This holiday dates back to pre-christian times.  As with most holidays, the pagan holiday was absorbed by the church in some Slavic countries and is celebrated as a holy day honoring St. John the Baptist.

Kupala is a Slavic goddess whose name means to bathe. Interestingly the squatting woman found on many Slavic embroideries is the goddess Kupala. She is the goddess of springs and water. Kupala  rules herbs. Wildflowers, ferns and birch trees are sacred to her.  She brings about joy, health and cleansing. Her fire aspect leads to purification, transformation and protection.
This longest day and shortest night honors two important elements: water and fire, the sacred feminine, spirit of life, creativity and destruction. Bathing in natural waterways like rivers, streams and lakes is a ritual purification. Water also symbolizes fertility. Fires are burned and around them there is much singing and dancing. Young people jump over the fire to show their bravery and faith. A man and woman jump over the fire while holding hands to see if they will forever stay together. If they fail to make the jump while holding hands it foretells a separation.

Young women weave together beautiful wildflower wreaths and float them on the water with candles. The path of the wreaths in the water can foretell about the woman's fate in love. Woven flower wreaths are worn on an unmarried woman's head. In Polish this flower garland is called wianek.

At night the maidens enter the forest, followed by the young men to look for herbs and the mythic fern flower which brings prosperity and luck in life to anyone who finds it.

Information and images from:
Youtube, Pinterest, Wikipedia
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kupala_Night) and