Ivan Kupala - A Mid-Summer's Night Dream
* Cover Image Credit Source: Simon Kozhin
A Mid Summer's Night Dream, Ukrainian Style. In the rest of the world, mid summer is celebrated June 23 at the official change of seasons as followed by the lunar cycle, but because of the Orthodox Calender being observed in the Slavic World, the date is on July 6/7 th. It is the all-night festival that celebrates the pagan elements of nature of the opposites of fire and water. The pre-Christian God of Water was called Kupala, and on this day it was common to 'rinse' away your sins in the river. As Christianity became more popular in the region, the ceremony became to be associated with John the Baptist, in local iconography – John becomes Ivan; and so the day is branded Ivana Kupala (the day of water baptism)
It is a celebration marked by the traditional head wreath of woven lowers for the girls
My friend Olya
The first portion of the day – we ventured to the woods to the local river – it was a desolate area normally, but there were many other groups celebrating their own rendition of the holiday in small clusters. We arrived at the river, and were ready to let the celebrations begin.
* Me 'dressed' as Vodenoyi
As a foreigner, I was given a nod to the plays and games of olde – I was dubbed with the name of Vodenyoi – the Father of the Sea – their version of Neptune. We had gathered on the occasion to celebrate the birthday of my eldest daughter, played by a student of mine, Alice. This is Alice - you can see why a Neptune would be upset.
* My friend Alice
There were songs, games, and random pranks upon each other. As our fun and revere began to grow – we were invaded by a group of Devils that were offended that they were not invited to the party and had kidnapped Alice for ransom. I had to make a plea to the Devils to bring my Alice back. I did so with the following diddy, sung to the tune of Ozzy Osbourn's Iron Man. It wasn't recorded – but I bet none of the group will forget the American singing badly in parody. I know I never will.