What is the Rasos / Midsummer’s / St. John’s Feast?

It is the time when the sun reaches its zenith, and nature is in full bloom.

All that is alive on earth is invited to join in the feast of life, to grow stronger, renew, and celebrate…

The period has been celebrated since times immemorial, not only by Lithuanians but also by other surrounding nations and tribes, the celebratory customs of which have numerous shared characteristics and symbols that still endure nowadays. Among the Baltic nations, the celebration has always been of great importance. Therefore, even during the Soviet years it continued in secret, despite the threat of serious trouble for those who participated in it.

The names of the celebration changed with time: Rasos¹, Kupolės², Joninės³ (St. John’s feast); however, its main features remained,

and now we try to guess their meaning and interpret it in a new way of our own.

The descriptions of rites and rituals presented here are based on the insights of researchers of the ethnic culture (J. Vaiškūnas, L. Klimka, A. Žarskus, and others), yet we leave the right to everyone participating in the celebration to describe the meaning of each ritual. What matters most is to become a unique part of the celebration.

 

[1] Rasos, or the Feast of Rasa (dew) is linked to the mythical goddess Rasa, the restorer of vegetation (P. Dundulienė); however,  the name is mostly associated with the morning dew as the main manifestation of life, which has great significance and healing power around the time of the feast (Vydija).
[2] Kupolės comes from the word “to flourish, to grow well” (Lith. kupėtikupoti). The name is associated with one of the most ancient ritual elements of the feast – Kupolė, – and herb and flower picking (Lith. kupoliavimas). The sound of the word is close to the Slavonic Kupala, since in the eastern Slavonic regions the feast used to be know by the name of Ivan Kupala (this was the translation of the name of St. John the Baptist).   
[3] Joninės (St. John’s feast) – the Christian name of the ancient festivities, linked to the feast of St. John the Baptist on the 24th of June.