Poland’s summer solstice, the pagan magic of Noc Kupały, Wianki, Palinocka and sobótka

The first month of June in Poland is always a strange experience, especially if you live in the north of the country. No sleepless nights, but a glint that appears so early (even, does not disappear) in the east, like the whim of the sun–rises at 4 am now, and which would refuse to let it be swallowed whole by the night. The summer solstice is a special date in the Polish tradition that gave rise to the pagan traditions that have come down to us. Depending on the region, this Slavic ritual can be accomplished by picking weeds, making wreaths, lighting bonfires, and swimming in lakes and rivers. Article by Valentine Jay.

KupalaAnd the SobotkaAnd the PalinukaAnd the Wianki : a festival rooted in Slavic culture

This year France celebrates the 40th edition of the music festival. It was Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, who came up with the idea for this tradition on the day of the summer solstice in 1982. However, the custom of celebrating the longest days of the year does not go back to yesterday. The Slavic peoples have already celebrated this period since the dawn of history, and it generally falls between June 20 and 24.

This pagan festival then consisted of lighting bonfires to cheer them up with the sun’s rays and driving away witches and other malicious spirits that night. She was then championed by the Catholic Church for what is known today throughout Europe as the Feast of Saint John.

If we in the Anglo-Saxon world know this celebration under the term midsummerin the Slavic regions it is called Kupala, named after a mythical goddess. But in Poland, it has many names: Palinuka in the north of the country and Sobotka in the southern regions. Some Polish regions even retain the name Knock Kubale.

What is common to all of these rituals are: water, the power of fertility, and its role in ritual purity.

You will be able to meet young girls who wear beautiful flower crowns, which they made themselves. Some traditions have them extinguish them (by placing candles in their posts) on rivers and attempt to predict the fortunes of their romance from the flower voyage on a waterway. Young people can try to pick up the crowns of those who want to attract their attention.

Many traditions in Poland during Kupala night

On the day of the solstice, even today, young people can jump over bonfires in a ritual test of courage and faith. If the couple fails in love while jumping while holding hands in this test, this will be interpreted as a sign of failure of the relationship.

You will be able to meet young girls who wear beautiful flower crowns, which they made themselves. They will be able to make them float (by placing candles in their centers) on the rivers and try to predict the fortune of their romance from the flower trip on the river. Young people can try to pick up the crowns of those who want to attract their attention.

Another tradition was for unmarried women to run through the forest with a crown of flowers on their heads. Then the guys went in search of their future lover.

In the Krakow region, girls would throw a wreath accompanied by a candle in the Vistula River to know their future. So we know in this region the celebrations of the summer solstice under the name Wiankilocal translation of “crown of flowers”.

During the 19th century, these summer solstice celebrations could take on a national character, as Poland was then under the yoke of Prussia, Austria and Russia in particular.

Where can the summer solstice be extended this year in Poland?

You can continue to celebrate summer in music, after the solstice, starting in the last week of June in Poznan with the Malta Festival and the Open’er Festival in Gdynia.

At the beginning of July, a place at the Music Festival (Wschód Kultury) in Lublin.

Find all appointments in our calendar, where you can also post your events for free!

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