What do they mean and what do they have in common?
Fête de la Saint-Jean (St. John’s Festival – French), Līgo (Midsummer – Latvian), Jāņi (John’s Day – Latvian) and Midsummer!
All of these holidays/festivals are related. My husband and I along with is family and friends enjoy celebrating Līgo each year! My husband’s paternal grandparents are from Latvia and immigrated to the United States during World War II. Their journey was quite difficult, courageous, and inspiring all at the same time.
Prior to meeting my husband and becoming familiar with Latvija (as spelled in the native language), I had never celebrated Līgo (or Midsummer) before. I tell my husband very often how blessed he is to know exactly where his roots come from and even better – that he still has many, many family members from the Fatherland (as the Latvians call it) that we have been fortunate enough to visit several times. I would love to know exactly where my roots come from, but the most I know is that I am mostly Scottish/Irish (and I’m quite proud of that) with a sprinkling of German and… … FRENCH (yay!)!!!
So, back to les fêtes (holidays)… Līgo occurs each year on June 23rd, and Jāņi is on the 24th of June. Without going into much of the history of the holiday, Līgo pre-dates Christianity with modern day celebrations centered around ancient pagan culture and beliefs.
Jāņi is the largest and considered the most significant festival of the year in the Baltics! Bonfires, feasts, special cheese known as Jāņu siers (made specifically for Jāņi), singing, dancing and wreath making fill this day with so much fun and great times!
A lot of Latvians leave the cities for the countryside for the celebrations, often lasting 3 days. The ladies walk the fields of wildflowers gathering stems of blossoms and grasses to make beautiful wreaths (called “vainags” in Latvian) to wear as crowns. The men wear wreaths made of strong and mighty oak leaves. And, the very special men named John (also my husband’s name) wear huge vainags of oak leaves!
Singing and dancing are also HUGE traditions that the Latvians keep alive to this day. They hold song festivals throughout the world each year and let me tell you – they are AMAZING! It fills my heart to feel the unity and proud vibes at these festivals. Although there may not be a lot of Latvians compared to the world population, they are MIGHTY! I truly admire their love for their country, their ancient traditions and their bond as Latvian brothers and sisters.
Although I have never been in France to celebrate Fête de la Saint-Jean (St. John’s Festival), I have heard and read that there are similar celebrations to welcome l’Été (Summer)! Of course lots of flowers are involved! Here is my crown of wildflowers I created for Saturday’s celebration.
How do you celebrate Fête de la Saint-Jean | Līgo | Jāņi | Midsummer? I would love to see pictures!
Allons faire un tour…