Rasos Holiday | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Pagan-Rooted Holidays of Lithuania

The late Christianisation of Lithuania failed to completely eradicate traces of paganism. Some holidays still have two alternative names - one Christian and one Pagan. These are the Joninės/Rasos (Saint John's Eve, coinciding with the year's longest day in June 23rd) and Virgin Assumption Day/Žolinė (August 15th).

The traditions for Joninės (Rasos) include bonfire burning, wreath making and a search for mythological blooming fern in a forest. In the pagan religion this "search" had a deeper meaning, but now it is used as a euphemism for spending the night with one's girlfriend or boyfriend away from the others. Joninės was made a day off the work by an impressive publicity stunt of TV3 channel which included massive lobbying campaign "Freedom for Joninės!". The campaign was also supported by Utenos alus beer factory as Joninės is now associated with increased consumption of alcoholic beverages. "Rasos" is the name often used for the festival that denotes its Pagan origins, whereas "Joninės" is the Christian name (after St. John).

Dancing around a bonfire with wreaths on the heads during a traditional mass-celebration of Rasos in Kernavė. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Žolinė is less popular than Joninės. Traditionally it was a holiday of the harvest completion. In the Christian tradition plants and flowers are used in church rituals.

Video of Joninės (Rasos) celebration with English subtitles.

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  1. Thank you for putting this together.

  2. I am visiting Lithuania during the summer solstice. Where should I go for the best Rasos festival? Thank you.

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