2017-06-13 Back to list

Midsummer in Kaunas: How and Where?

Getting ready for the shortest night of the year.

The night of June 23, or Midsummer, is the shortest night of the year and, as in many countries around the world and Europe, it has been celebrated in Lithuania for centuries. This year is no exception. In this short article we’ll try to briefly picture what to expect if you’re getting ready to celebrate it for the first time in your life. Good choice!

ale 1048Midsummer at the Daugirdas amphitheatre. Photo by Andrius Aleksandravičius / Kauno diena

The ones having the most fun during Midsummer in Lithuania are people named Jonas (John) and Janina (the female version of John). It's because the already very traditional festivity of summer solstice aimed at protecting the harvest from evil souls, witches, draught and thunder, was renamed to St. John’s day after Christianity came to Lithuania. The feast itself is now quite traditionally called Joninės but Rasos, the traditional Baltic version meaning ‘dews’, is also used.

Most of the traditional elements of the night come from pre-Christian times. Probably the best-known tradition of the Midsummer night is looking for the non-existant (yet very symbolic) fern blossom that is supposed to appear during the summer solstice. To look for it, you go to the woods, preferably with your significant other, and use your imagination.

Photo by I, Hugo.arg, CC BY-SA 3.0

Other traditions include singing and dancing until the wee hours, jumping over bonfires (those tend to be very tall so do it at your own risk!) and washing your face with early morning dew. Don’t forget to let your flower wreath go in a river or lake after you wear it all night. 

Screen Shot 2017 06 13 at 15.19.25Screen Shot 2017 06 13 at 15.19.43Midsummer at the Nemunas island in Kaunas. Photos by Erikas Ovčarenko / 15min.lt
The Joninės bonfires can be spotted in various places and neighbourhoods around Kaunas on the night of June 23rd, as it’s one of the most-celebrated holidays of the year. June 24rd, by the way, is usually a day off, but it’s a Saturday in 2017 so there’s no bonus.
The ‘official’ celebration hosted by the city will be held at the Daugirdas amphithetre on Nemunas river, by the Vytautas church. Folk bands, singing and dancing are all on the menu, as well as a river for your flower wreath (which you’ll be taught how to make!). The party starts at 8PM and is of course free of charge. 
ale 0875ale 0923ale 1061 0Midsummer at the Daugirdas amphitheatre. Photos by Andrius Aleksandravičius / Kauno diena
On Saturday, June 24th, you can experience a lot of  Lithuanian traditions in Rumšiškės, an open-air ethnographic  museum near Kaunas. A Joninės day party will be held there from 1PM. 

You can more about the Midsummer traditions in our country hereIn the rest of Lithuania, the biggest and most interesting Joninės festivals take place in Verkiai park in Vilnius; Kernavė, the historic capital of Lithuania; Jonava, the city of Johns; and a very holy mountain called Rambynas near Pagėgiai town.   


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