Summer Solstice 2023. Traditions and superstitions

June 21 is the longest day of the year.

The summer solstice 2023 takes place on Wednesday, June 21, at 5:58 p.m., a phenomenon that marks the beginning of the astronomical summer, not just the calendar, being the period of the year with the longest duration of natural sunlight. At the same time, in the southern hemisphere it is the time when people mark the beginning of winter. The solstice is an astronomical event related to the Earth’s revolution around the Sun and rotation around its own axis.

In rural Romania, the summer solstice has long been associated with harvesting. The fires are starting to be lit for the Night of Sânziene. They are made on the slopes, on the highest place, near stagnant waters, to remove diseases and troubles. Domestic animals are passed through fire for purification, and lighted torches are carried across the fields to ward off harm.

The summer solstice tradition and superstitions have ancient roots, because the longest day (illuminated by the Sun) of the year is considered a balance point, a crossroads, a day of the absolute, written under the sign of fire, which is the symbol of the Sun. During this period, the Sânzienele/Midsummer Day celebration will also take place, somehow associated, in Romanian popular tradition, with the summer solstice. In the popular calendar, June 24 is known as the Midsummer Day (Sanziene or Drăgaica. Also on June 24, Orthodox Christian believers celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist. Sânzienele has its origin in an ancient cult of the sun, and in some areas, the celebration is also called “Cap de vara/Summer Head”.

In the popular belief,  Sânzienele are some beautiful girls or fairies, who live in the woods or on the plains, most often, dancing. They are considered fairies of the field, giving special powers to flowers and weeds, so that they, around the celebration on June 24, become medicinal plants. Not by chance, after the Midsummer Day festival, all the plants “grow back”, i.e. they don’t grow at all.

Traditions and superstitions

On the night of June 23, the Romanian girls use to put lady’s bedstraw flowers under their pillow, in the hope that they will dream of their bear. Married women used to wrap their waists with sycamore flowers, so as not to have pain while working in the fields. Both girls and women put the flower in their hair or in their breasts, to draw attention to their beauty.

From the ears of wheat, sanziene (lady’s bedstraw flowers) and other plants, the girls made wreaths with which they adorned themselves and performed the Dragaica dance. This dance was for abundance, as well as for the protection of households and fields. In popular tradition, it was believed that, together with the fairies, the sun also played at noon, so that he stayed longer in the sky than usual.

The omnipotence of the sun at the solstice is celebrated, among Romanians, by the Sânziene fires, lit on the highest place. Girded with belts of wormwood, people circle around the fire, then throw these belts to burn with all the possible troubles that might come. Since ancient times, the summer solstice has been a great occasion for joy and celebration, being linked to the time of harvesting. In the beginning, the celebration coincided with the date of the solstice, that is, June 21.

Later, the ceremonial being considered by the church as pagan, it was moved to June 24 – the day dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Over time, the Night of Sânziene – as it is called in Romanian folklore – has become a popular celebration, with a traditional character, which takes place differently depending on the respective country and even the respective region.

For farmers, this day is very important for weather forecasting. In popular belief, it is believed that if it rains on or after St. John the Baptist (Sânziene), it is a bad omen because it will rain non-stop for the next 40 days, so the harvest of wheat, hazelnuts and lettuce will be destroyed, according to ethnologists.

2023dr?gaicafiregirlsharvestingjunelady's bedstraw flowersmidsummer daypillowsânzienesummer solsticesuperstitionstraditions
Comments (0)
Add Comment