"The ancient Rus origins of Kupala's Eve revolved around fertility and self purification, the idea being to clean one's body, mind and spirit in order to gain an elevated Naturist consciousness."


The evening of Ivana-Kupala celebrates the Summer Solstice, the shortest night of the year.   Like Halloween and Easter in the United States it is a celebration that is deeply rooted in pagan history.   The ancient Rus origins of this festivity revolved around fertility and self purification, the idea being clean one's body, mind and spirit in order to gain an elevated consciousness.

According to Rus myth, Solntzevorot-day (summer solstice) was the day when Perun (god of the sun as well as thunder and lightning) had been forced to descend from his regular path across the sky.  Whether he was driven down by his own enemies or by exhaustion is not clear. He was discovered, nurtured and resurrected by the clear-eyed girl Zarya (daybreak) who bathed him in the early-morning dew she gathered from the fields of fragrant grass. Reinvigorated, Perun found the strength to reascend the heavens.  Thus, in the early morning when the dew is on the grass people use it to bathe; they will also float in the river believing that water  on this day has a special cleansing force.

Solntzevorot-day is also the traditional time when Nature blesses the farmers, revealing to them all her natural treasures.  Kupala, the ancient image of the fertile summer land, is traditionally honored with bonfires.  In olden days these fires lit up the field, river banks and hills.  A Kupala bonfire was termed “living fire” and symbolized Perun’s power over the fertility of the land and fruiting of the trees.  It was commonly believed that by jumping through a Kupala bonfire a person became cleansed prior to the beginning of harvest, and this made him or her healthier and more powerful.

The pagan roots of the celebration promoted fertility, and echoes of this resonate today in an event known for its often ribald ebulliance.  The Eve of Ivana-Kupala was a “Night of Love” when married couples were released from the usual strictures governing daily life.  On this night it was accepted if a husband chose another woman or girl from among his wife’s friends or family.  Similarly, it was acceptable should a wife select a male partner from her husband’s friends and family.

On the day following Kupala’s Eve, it was also believed that certain grasses and plants acquired supernatural qualities,  In the morning the young people went out to the fields to collect Kupalenka, medvez’ye ushko (little bear ears), bogatenka (the grass of the reach men) and razryv-trawa (love-break-grass) which were then placed at the head of the bed to encouraging dreams, which on this night were considered to be prophetic.


Foreward    Holy Nature Manifesto    Introduction
A Day in the Russian Countryside    A Naturist Wedding and Feast    Children's Day Celebration
The Eve of Ivana Kupala    Interview: M. Rusinov    Interview: Alla
Suggested Reading    Purchase the Book   e-mail


Copyright © 1998 by Body & Mind Publications
Design: George Mattingly Design
Printing: Penn&Ink

ISBN 0-9664609-0-1

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