July 5, 2017 at 11.29pm by in Slavic Women


As you already know Ukraine is rich on various rites and traditions. Ivan Kupala is one of the upcoming national holidays of the summer circle. Many Ukrainian ladies gladly celebrate it nowadays. I would like to tell you about its customs to make you more aware about the history of Ukraine.

Background of the holiday

Due to its pagan background, the holiday of Ivan Kupala glorifies the three elements: fire, water and herbs. With their help you can either drive away evil spirits or attract them. It is important to carry out ceremonies and follow the Kupala traditions correctly.

Bonfires on Ivan Kupala

The tradition of burning a fire at night on Ivan Kupala from July 6th to 7th reaches its roots the pagan past. The fire itself represented the summer solstice. The day became shorter after June, 21 and this was a good opportunity for dark forces to show themselves. To drive away all sorts of demons people went out to mass festivals around the campfires. In order to provide a night entertainment, the village boys set fire in the barrels and rolled them into the river from the high bank.

Magic of a bonfire

The bonfires were used not only for warming up, but also for carrying jump competitions. The higher a person jumps above all the bonfires the happier he will be. Loving couples used to jump holding hands over the fading fire. If their hands split up the couple wasn’t about to stay together long. But if they held tight – their destiny was to love each other for many years ahead.

Another usage of fire was healing. People believed that if the clothes of a sick person were burned on the holiday night the person would soon recover.

Water on Ivan Kupala

Many Ivan Kupala traditions are connected with water. On July, 7 Christians also mark the birthday of John the Forerunner, who baptized Jesus in Jordan. Therefore, people believe that from this day on bathing in open water becomes safe. The evil is believed to be expelled from the rivers and lakes.

In addition to healing bathing, it is possible to heal the body and soul by washing with the morning dew. Young Ukrainian ladies are believed to become even more beautiful. In the evening Ukrainian ladies set the wreaths onto the water for divination. This tradition repeats the divination performed on Trinity day.


Herbs on Ivan Kupala

On Ivan Kupala herbs and flowers acquired special healing powers. That is why Ukrainian women harvested them, dried and used them throughout the year for treatment and protection against malice.

The most important plant of the day is a fern. As the legend says ferns can bloom for a few seconds on Kupala night. If a man sees this miracle, he must tear the flower and escape from the forest fleeing from evil spirits. Successful escape from evil spirits can give a person superhuman powers. A person may learn to understand plants’ and animals’ language as well as be able to easily find any treasures.

What cannot be done on Ivan Kupala?

Ivan Kupala wakes up all the evil spirits of the forest, so you should not sleep this night. In addition to this there are some other prohibitions. On the night of July 6th to 7th pregnant Ukrainian women, children and the elderly should stay away from the water. Evil water spirits (like mermaids) can bring harm to the weakened bodies of these people.

To ensure that the family will not impoverish it is better for its members not to give, sell or borrow anything on Ivan Kupala day. Moreover, if a person finds money on the road – even a big sum – he should by no means take it.

Women that celebrate Ivan Kupala must visit the evening bonfire. They say that only witches avoid doing this.

Russian ladies also celebrate Ivan Kupala

Ukraine is not the only country keeping the ancient traditions of Slavic ancestors. Russian women, especially those living in villages also celebrate Ivan Kupala or Kupala night. Traditions of the holiday are the same as the Ukrainian ladies keep. Some women dress in traditional clothing and floral wreaths and take part in the night gaiety.


Knowing rich Slavic traditions can help you break the ice in your conversation with a Ukrainian lady. Just greet her on the day and ask her whether her relatives told her about the family members taking part in such events. You will have an opportunity to hear a very exciting story or tell the lady about the day if she has never heard of it 🙂


  • Wilheim Szajczek


  • Wilheim Szajczek


    • Anna

      Dear Wilheim,
      thank you for your commentaries and your interest in Ukrainian folk traditions!
      The information you provided gives a plenty of additional details about the celebration. We are impressed that you found such an old classic movie devoted to the holiday and I hope that you found it exciting. It brightly shows the life of Ukrainians living in rural areas how it used to be half a century ago. A lot of Ukrainian literature is devoted exactly to these times. The author of the novel on which the movie is based, Nikolai Gogol, was indeed a great dramatist!
      I thank you for letting me know that someone is so interested in Ukrainian culture (and my posts as well) 🙂
      Have a wonderful day!

  • Richa Verma

    nice line about Herbs on Ivan Kupala

    Richa Verma


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