Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: February 5, 2020
Primary Language: English
Intro: The following is a transcribed from my informant, P.
P: This is something you do in Poland with your lover. You strip down and hold hands then try to jump over a fire. If you’re still holding hands jumping naked over a fire, then you are truly significant to each other. If you aren’t holding hands, then the relationship is doomed. It’s called Kupala night, sometime in the summer.
P: I heard about it from my mom when I was little, but I think it’s one of those things that I wasn’t supposed to know about, so I don’t think I have the full story.
Background: My informant is an old friend of mine who I once worked with. Both of his parents are Polish and he learned Polish before English, but he was born in America. He has a rocky relationship with his family as he had a difficult childhood and by extension does not currently connect much with nor seek out his Polish identity, even though it was at the forefront during the formative years of his life.
Context: We got dinner, and I asked if I could also interview him and if he had any folklore to share.
Thoughts: P recalled this as a scandalous practice and one of the few things he remembers about his mother, though he never asked his parents if they did this which I found odd. Funny enough, P didn’t have the full story– I looked up the tradition, and it’s part of a larger festival that involves this as one small component.
See https://www.inyourpocket.com/warsaw/Midsummers-Night_72214f to learn more about it as a summer solstice festival.
I think it is interesting how the story can change through generations and a willingness to remember.