Summer Solstice Tradition – Latvian

Summer Solstice:

“It’s also called John’s Day – because it’s the most common name. It’s really geared towards young adults, for them to find their second half. It’s all about celebrating the sun. We stay up all night to greet the sun. At night we dance around the fire, singing songs, drinking beer, eating cheese; and then jump over the fire with man and woman—if you accidently hit the fire, and it stirs, the pictures will tell you how you would be as man and woman.”

“I learned through doing it. I learned it through family member and friends. The older people just pass it on to the younger. I think it’s a very important activity; not that it’s going to show future, but really brings the community together. If you’re brace enough to do it, it shows that you care about your culture and tradition.”

The informant is originally from Latvia but has been living in Los Angeles for more than five years. She practices Latvian Neo-Paganism. Paganism is a religion that is passed down from generation to generation through folklore, and as such it is rich in folk beliefs.

The summer solstice is an important time in the cyclic calendar, which Paganism observes. Also, the festival is meant to bring together younger couples, a characteristic typical of summer festivals. Festivals are often characterized as “not normal time” and as such “new normal” behaviors are practiced and accepted. By jumping over the fire together, they are testing what their future would be together. This is an example of sign folk magic.