Originating in ancient folk traditions, St. John's Day marks the beginning of the season for haymaking. The day was celebrated long before the arrival of Christianity in Estonia. Although the celebration received a Christian name, pagan traditions are still alive and well today. Since 1919, Midsummer celebrations have overlapped with Victory Day celebrations on June 23rd, the day Estonian forces defeated German troops in the War of Independence.
Ancient superstitions and modern traditions
Midsummer's Eve is intertwined with many folk beliefs. Children stay up until dawn, while young lovers wander through the forest looking for a lucky fern flower said to bloom only on this night. If you are lucky enough to spot a glowworm, you may expect a great fortune. Young women looking to take a sneak peek into the future are advised to collect nine different types of flowers and place them under a pillow for the night, resulting in a predictive dream revealing a future spouse. The more adventurous boys and girls are known to jump over the bonfire in hopes of achieving prosperity or to swing as high as possible on the village's wooden swing. More modern traditions include singing, dancing, and the telling of old folk tales.