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July, 7: Ivan Kupala Day

July, 7 - Ivan Kupala Day

Ivan Kupala Day is celebrated in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine currently on 7 July in the Gregorian or New Style calendar, which is 24 June in the Julian or Old Style calendar still used by many of the Orthodox Churches. Calendar-wise, it is opposite to the winter solstice holiday Korochun. According to Vasmer, the name of this holiday combines the words "Ivan", the Slavic name of John (the Baptist), and Kupala, a word derived from the Slavic word for bathing - as it was the first day of the year when the church sanctioned bathing and swimming in rivers and ponds. The term kupala also coincides with tradition of John's baptizing people through full immersion in water and therefore with the his title of the Baptist. The evening before this Holiday the elements of fire and water are used as part of the purification process. Children participate in various cleaning rites. Boys and girls are required to run and jump over a burning bonfire. Another of these rituals involves girls standing by a river with flower garlands in hand. When children drop the garlands into the water they watch how it moves and from this they can tell what will happen in their future. These purification exercises are believed to scare away the witches, werewolves, water spirits, nymphs and wood-goblins.

Greeting cards: Ivan Kupala Day

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