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Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

Within the True Confession, the 24th day of Krasen’ is dedicated to Noya the Forerunner. The date appears to mark both the saint’s birth (into a sacred Chantry font), as well as her baptism of Gaal during the period of her ministry.   Despite Noya’s importance in the list of saints, this holiday’s prominence is due primarily to its links to a much older heathen feast originally celebrated on the summer solstice. The feast was dedicated to Kupalo, a manifestation of Yarilo (or perhaps simply Yarilo in the act of summer bathing). The legend behind the holiday relates the story of Yarilo-Kupalo and a twin sister, Kostroma (an avatar of Morena, or another of Perun’s daughters). The two were separated in childhood, when Sirin, the Bird of Death, carried Kupalo off to the Netherworld. On the Spring Equinox, Yarilo-Kupalo returned, and by the Summer Solstice, his magical power over the earth and vegetation is at its fullest extent. On this day, he once again encountered his sister, as he floats by in a boat, and picks up a garland she accidentally drops in the water, and the two marry. This union of fire and water also signals the official opening of the swimming season, because the waters are now said to be free of any trace of nechist’. Any connection with Noya is obviously tenuous, a fact tirelessly stressed by vigilant Church authorities, but the two legends share the themes of immersion and water.   The celebration itself takes place primarily at night between the 23rd and 24th of Krasen’. A collective skinny dip before sunset is followed by an exchange of wreaths, and the lighting of bonfires. At this point, intended couples pair off, and, holding hands, leap over the flames. Those who manage to keep holding hands, and jump highest will have the best fortune. In some cases, young people who have lost their virginity have no right to jump, because their polluted status pollutes the purifying magic of the flames. Those who fail or refuse to jump over the flames are commonly accused of being witches. The couples then join others to dance around a decorated Kupalo Tree, roll burning wheels down hillsides, play tricks on their neighbors, and return to the water or roll in the morning dew. The rest of the population celebrates this day by cooking a special commemorative porridge, which they then share with the poor. Healers and witches of various kinds take the opportunity to harvest herbs on Kupalo night.   It is said that potions made with materials gathered on this night have double normal strength.


Night from 23rd to 24th Krasen'

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