Ivan-Kupala

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ivan-Kupala

 

(Ivan-Kupalo), an ancient folk religious and magical agricultural holiday (the same as Ivan’s Day, June 24, Old Style). It was celebrated under different names by many European peoples, including the Slavs. Kupala was the popular name for John the Baptist, and the church merged the legend of his birth and his baptism of Jesus Christ with certain folk agricultural rituals: preparation of bonfires and jumping over them (whoever jumped the highest would have the tallest grain crop), the pouring of water over oneself and bathing, round dances, processions with decorated effigies, and so forth. The people hoped that the celebration of these rituals would ensure health, happiness, and a good harvest. Many beliefs (for example, that grass acquires healing power), legends, fairy tales, and songs associated with Ivan-Kupala have been reflected in literature. Nowadays the holiday has lost its religious and magical significance, but it has been retained as a traditional summer festival in some areas.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.