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Kupala Night in Poland History, folklore and rites… Presentation by Polish Participants Sopot 2010 English Unlimited Discover the World Anew Project 2010/2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Kupala Night in Poland History, folklore and rites… Presentation by Polish Participants Sopot 2010 English Unlimited Discover the World Anew Project 2010/2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Kupala Night in Poland History, folklore and rites… Presentation by Polish Participants Sopot 2010 English Unlimited Discover the World Anew Project 2010/2011

2 For the beginning… Even our great great great… forebears, that lived in a much closer relationship with nature than present generations, appreciated the uniqueness of the night of 21/22 June – the shortest night throughout the year, the night that is so magical! Slavic nations celebrated it joyously with bonfires and traditional rites as a holiday of fire and water. This holiday was also devoted to love and fertility, being much more interesting and ceremonial contrary to todays so popular St. Valentines Day. Pagans named this magical night - the Kupala Night - after a holiday devoted to Kupala, goddess of love and healing plants, and also the patron of wise women who possessed knowledge about herbs and good magic. 2010/20112Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night

3 …the name As the Kupala Night originated as a Pagan celebration, it was highly criticized by the Church. Once the Churchs efforts to eradicate the holiday failed, it was cleverly united with the Christian patron, St. John the Baptist. Initially, the date of celebrations was moved to the Saturday before the Polish holiday of Zielone Swiatki in May, hence its popular name Sobotka. Finally, the holiday was celebrated on the night of 23/24 June, changed its character slightly and was named after its patron – the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Another name for this night is the Midsummer Night as the first celebrations were held during the time of the summer solstice. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night3

4 Summers welcoming, adequately performed, was to ensure rich harvest and nice weather. Young boys and girls made predictions whether hot summer would bring them fortune in love or not. The Kupala Nights ceremonies began by a lit bonfire. One larger, alternatively a few smaller fires were prepared from fresh wood and located on a rivers shore or on a hilltop. All over Europe and beyond, cheerful processions of dancing and singing people made their way around lit bonfires. Traditionally, people leapt over fire in wreaths or belts of herbs, a rite that was to protect them from evil spirits, demons, witches and illnesses. The fun and magical rituals lasted till dawn. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night4 Rituals Summers arrival

5 The most famous fortune-telling ritual for both boys and girls was floating of wreaths on water. Young girls used to throw wreaths of fresh flowers and herbs often lit with candles into a river. At the beginning wreaths were probably a gift for the water element to further evolve into a custom of marriage fortune-telling and matchmaking. Young men positioned down the river caught wreaths and looked for their makers. Otherwise, when a girls wreath was not caught or a boy did not caught any wreath, each of them wouldnt taste love all year round. In times when marriages were arranged by parents or elders, this ritual was the only way to bring two people in love together without breaking the traditions. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night5 Rituals Wreaths floating

6 There was an ancient belief that the Kupala Night Eve was the only time of the year when ferns bloom. The blue fern flower was to bring prosperity, luck and knowledge to its finder, and only the brave and the moral could come across the plant. Therefore, on that night villagers wandered around the forests in search of magical herbs and especially the elusive fern flower. Traditionally, unmarried women, signified by wreaths on their hair, were first to enter the forests. They were followed by young men. Consequently, the quest in finding the fern flower could have brought together pairs of men and women into relationships. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night6 Rituals Fern flower

7 Seven (a magical number) plants were always associated with the Kupala Night: wormwood, sundew, sage, burdock, rue, mullein and St. Johns wort. These herbs were used to prepare wreaths that were then tied around maidens waist or bouquets that were hang on the front door to the house in order to scare away evil spirits, protect against illnesses and to guarantee a good marriage. Herbs harvested during that night were supposed to possess magical powers. Picked just before the first bird sang, they were dried under a pillow or served as a universal cure. Additionally, as people believed water to gain extraordinary cleansing properties, it was advisable to clean ones home before the Kupala Night and then walk around the house with a lit torch to ward off misfortune and demons. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night7 Rituals Magical herbs

8 The Midsummer Night marked the opening of the so called swimming season. By blessing water, people drove out evil forces and all other water demons that would lie in wait for foolhardy tourists, who in their craving for the summer, were taking a dip before this holiday. Some believed that having a bath after the Kupala Night granted youth, beauty and good health. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night8 Rituals Swimming season

9 Kupala Night and arts Such a colourful and cheerful holiday must have left a mark in the arts. For example, the Midsummer Nights rich traditions are enchanted in a beautiful song by a famous Polish poet Jan z Czarnolasu that lived in the 16 th century. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night9 Midsummer Night Song (excerpt) (…) Lets now this famous evening Celebrate as ancient bidding, With bonfires lit till the dawn, Songs and music evenings gown. (…) and paintings: Feast of St. John the Baptist, Henryk Siemiradzki, 19 th century

10 …for the end Although the Midsummer Night as celebrated today has little in common with its Pagan traditional Kupala Night, it is still worth to participate in its activities. Whole families arrive on site to celebrate the Eve. The rites of floating wreaths on the water, lit bonfires, fancy music and entertainment till dawn as well as fireworks lightning the sky, they all make people wait impatiently for this event. 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night10

11 THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION :) Presentation prepared by: the group from Sopot, Poland Photographs copyright by: 2010/2011Discover the World Anew: the Kupala Night11


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