Ivana Kupala Day is the day of summer solstice celebrated in Ukraine on July, 7th in the Gregorian or New Style calendar, which is currently June, 24th in the Julian or Old Style calendar still used by many of the Orthodox Churches. Initially, this day had pagan character. Since ancient times it had been dedicated to the Slavic god Kupala and sun. Ivana Kupala in Ukraine is a summer fest where love, magic, happiness, pagan and Christian traditions come together in a most mystical, vibrant and authentic summer holiday.
In keeping with Christian canons, this is a day to honor Saint John who was the Godfather of Jesus Christ. After conversion of Kyivan Rus into Christianity, Ivan Kupala day, was appropriated and combined with the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The two holidays blended together, just as the name combined both John (Ivan) the Baptist and the old Pagan god Kupalo.
Kupala Day in Ukraine is rich in superstitions, rituals and ceremonies. Celebratory traditions of this day are incredibly similar in different countries of Europe, originating from the pagan past of European people, who celebrated the arrival of the summer solstice. Slavic belief is that Kupalo, god of solstice, love and harvest, has been personified as the earth’s fertility, with many rites of this holiday connected with water, fertility and purification. On this day, fire and water have sacral and purifying qualities. People bathe in a river, pond, or lake, in order to clean themselves from negative energies. A number of ancient water rituals and games are also related to attracting love and happy marriage.
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Most of all Ukrainian legends and beliefs are connected with the flower of fern. On the night of Ivan Kupala youth walks in woods, looking for a fern flower, which blooms for a few minutes, then disappears. According to the legend, on this night fern blooms with bright fiery flower. Around midnight the germ suddenly appears out of fern leaves, rising higher and higher. Exactly at midnight before the spectator’s eyes appears bright fire flower, so bright that it is impossible to watch; invisible hand picks it as a person hardly ever can do so. Who will find blossomed fern and will be able to seize it, acquires magical power. If you have time and strength to pick it, the earth will open, making visible the hidden treasures. Also you’ll begin to understand the language of animals and birds.
Young couples are jumping together over the fire whilst holding their hands tightly. If they manage not to separate their hands during the jump this will bring a big happiness to the couple and most likely they will stay together forever. Single young girls gather in groups, where each puts beautiful flower wreath on the river, that are later on caught by guys on the other side. A girl whose wreath a guy picks might eventually become his loved one. This is a feast of youth, beauty, loving hearts, spells of love and natural effects.
Ukrainian capital Kyiv in 2017 offers a few locations where one can try all the authentic Ivana Kupala traditions and rituals for themselves. On July 6th, 2017 Feofania Park invites to enjoy all the most popular Ivana Kupala rituals like jumping over the fire, setting flower wreathes on the water and looking for a mysterious fern flower. Guests will also have a chance to enjoy folk music bands like gigs, fire show, traditional Ukrainian craft workshops for kids with a spectacular ritual of burning Kupala rag doll at the end of the day.
Kyiv Rus Park in Kopachev will have a special Ivana Kupala entertainment program on July 6th and 7th as well as over the weekend of July 8th and 9th, 2017. Here guests can enjoy a fascinating horse riding show, jumping over the fire games, fun workshops and games for kids. Local food court will offer traditional Kyiv Rus food and drinks, guests are welcome to relax on the sandy beach by the lake, take a leisurely stroll around the forrest and try to find a fern flower, the symbol of Ivana Kupala holiday in Ukraine.
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Ivana Kupala theme entertainment programs will also take place at Mamayeva Sloboda (2, M. Dontsa street, Kyiv) «Ukrainian Village» park and ethnographical complex (Buzova Village near Kyiv).
Don’t miss a chance to experience one of the most ancient and magical holidays in Ukraine, which has the very interesting and vibrant rituals and traditions.
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