RIGA: THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN
From ancient times the Balts celebrated the night of the summer solstice, the shortest night in the year, by making sacrifices to pagan gods while priestesses fed the altar fire.
When their counties were ‘Christianised’ , their pagan heritage persisted and this festival, Ligo, also called the night of St. John, preserves all of its old traditions relating to renewal and fertility, spells, and fun.
Every year, Riga, the capital of Latvia, is filled with garlands of foliage, preferably oak leaves. and the shortest night of the year is illuminated by the flames of bonfires rising high into the sky and celebrated by staying up to greet the rising sun.
On June 23 , I saw crowds of people of all ages adorned with flower wreaths gather along the banks of the Dvina to sing, dance, and celebrate until dawn