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!
Midsummer 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.
You can more about the Midsummer traditions in our country here. In 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.