St. John's Day in Estonia in 2025

St. John's Day in Estonia in 2025
  How long until St. John's Day?
St. John's Day
  Dates of St. John's Day in Estonia
2025 Estonia Tue, Jun 24 National Holiday
2024 Estonia Mon, Jun 24 National Holiday
2023 Estonia Sat, Jun 24 National Holiday
2022 Estonia Fri, Jun 24 National Holiday
2021 Estonia Thu, Jun 24 National Holiday

The feast day of St John the Baptist marking Midsummer. John by tradition was born six months before Jesus.

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  St. John's Day in other countries
St. John's Day internationally

St. John's Day in Estonia

One of the most important summer holidays in the Estonian folk calendar, Jaanipäev is widely considered to be the most important holiday in Estonia, surpassing even Christmas.

When is St. John's Day?

Always celebrated on June 24th, this holiday celebrates the birthday of St. John the Baptist.

In the Gospel of Luke, certain verses imply that John the Baptist was born six months earlier than Jesus. And since it has become a tradition that Jesus was born on December 25th (Christmas Day), Midsummer day, being six months before was taken to be the feast day of St. John the Baptist.

History of St. John's Day

Usually, a saint's feast day is celebrated on the day that the saint died. St. John along with the Virgin Mary are the only two saints whose birthdays are celebrated.

St. John's death (August 29th) is also marked by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.

The feast day of Saint John the Baptist was a popular feast day in many European countries. One reason for this was that its timing coincided nicely with much older pagan holidays that celebrated the summer solstice. It is still celebrated as a religious feast day in several countries, such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and has echos in other holidays such as the Swiss National Day - a central theme in the celebrations is the lighting of bonfires.

It was thought that the Summer solstice was a time when spirits roamed freely, so bonfires were lit to ward off and protect from the evil spirits. Later on, the solstice was seen as a time when witches or even dragons needed to be kept at bay with a bonfire.

John the Baptist is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. Most scholars agree that John baptized Jesus by wading into the water with Jesus from the eastern bank of the river.

John is probably best known for foretelling of the Messiah, which in the New Testament predicted the coming of Jesus.

According to the Gospel of Mark, John is imprisoned by Herod for denouncing Herod's incestuous marriage. John condemned Herod for marrying Herodias (his niece) in violation of Old Testament Law. After Herodias's daughter Salome has danced before Herod, he grants her a favour. Herodias tells her to ask for the head of John the Baptist, which is delivered to her on a plate.

St. John the Baptist is the patron Saint of Turin.

His feast day is also celebrated in Quebec as the Fete Nationale du Quebec.

Traditions of Midsummer Day in Estonia

On Midsummer Eve or Jaaniõhtu, Estonians gather with families and friends, or at larger community events, to celebrate with singing, dancing and lighting bonfires as they have for centuries.

One myth suggests that the celebration involving a bonfire started around the time of the fall of the Kaali meteorite in Saaremaa some 4,000 years ago. Bonfires are lit to symbolize the meteorite's fall, which is said to have been like the sun rising again in the middle of the night.

Jaanipäev celebrations were merged with the celebration of Võidupüha (Victory Day) during the War of Independence when Estonian forces defeated the German troops on June 23rd 1919.

Midsummer's Eve is also an important time for young lovers. An Estonian folk tale for midsummer tells the tale of two lovers, Koit (dawn) and Hämarik (dusk). These two lovers see each other only once a year and exchange the briefest of kisses on the shortest night of the year.

Lovers go into the forest looking for the flower of the fern which is said to bloom only on that night. Ferns are not flowering plants and therefore never bloom, which also gives the tradition the significance of always searching but never finding perfection. Also on this night, single people can follow a detailed set of instructions involving different flowers to see whom they are going to marry.

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