Wildflower Walk on The Eve of Ivan Kupala

Bonfires are being prepared on the sandy beach lining the Vorskla, a river that cuts Poltava in half and hugs our hamlet within the city’s suburbs. One group of girls is busy weaving wreaths from wild flowers. Heaps of daisies, yarrow and cornflowers are spread out on the ground around them. Further along the bank, grills are being set up, and people are staking out spots with towels and empty crates. It is still early enough, several hours before the sun takes a dip in the river. The scent of hot sand, hay, wild thyme, cigarette smoke and water lilies hangs heavy in the still air. We are waiting for Ivan Kupala’s Eve.

kupala

Ivan Kupala is the Slavic version of the midsummer festival marking the summer solstice. According to the old style Julian calendar used by the Orthodox Church, it’s celebrated on the night of 6/7 July in Ukraine. (In neighboring Poland, Noc Kupały, just like the Swedish midsummer celebrations, takes place on 23/24 June.) Ivan means John (as in John the Baptist) and Kupala comes from the Slavic word for bathing. Although Christian traditions are woven into the festival, the roots are clearly pagan. Water and fire intertwine in various rites, and the river is worshiped as much as the saint himself. Today, the celebrations may involve more beer and barbecue than romantic rituals, but women still float wreaths in the streams to divine their future. Candles are still lit on the river bank. Couples still jump over the bonfire to test the strength of their relationship.

In Nikolai Gogol’s story, “Midnight on the Eve of Ivan Kupala”, a young man makes a pact with the devil to find the fern flower in exchange for money, and ultimately, his beloved’s hand. Fern was said to bloom only on Ivan Kupala’s night, and if the seeker’s motives were pure, it could grant the most ardent wishes. Ferns reproduce by spores and don’t flower, but it doesn’t prevent villagers from roaming the hills in search of other herbs. It’s believed that plants picked on the eve of Ivan Kupala possess the strongest medicinal properties.

river

Besides the mystical, there may be a scientific explanation for the richer concentration of essences in herbs around this time. Early July is the prime blooming season for many plants in Eastern Europe. Wild thyme starts to flower, and you only need to crush a stem with your fingers and rub the fuzzy purple flowers behind your ears to be perfumed for hours. Broom smells as if someone let the honey boil over. Carnations smell searing hot of pepper and cloves. The hillsides become a patchwork of different colors, which will fade over the course of the month as the sun becomes scorchingly hot.

Earlier in the day, I set out in the meadows behind our house, walking along the Vorskla. These wildflower walks have a dual purpose–I enjoy the summery aroma of the countryside and I pick herbs for tisanes. My great-grandmother grew up in the village and lived through the hardest decades of the last century; herbs helped her survive when there was no access to medicine. Later, she supplemented modern pills with traditional herbal blends. Raspberry tea was our first aid whenever we caught colds. Chamomile tonics soothed rashes. Pine bud steam baths relieved stuffy noses. I have absorbed all of this lore as readily as I have her passion for scented flowers and beautiful fabrics.

wildflowers

Just outside our gate, I spot a patch of German chamomile livening up the pathway with white and yellow polka dots. It smells like spicy green apples and musty wood, and on its own, it makes for a bittersweet cup of tisane. Better yet, is to add a spoonful of dried rose petals and lavender for a richer, honeyed flavor. Since rose and chamomile are some of the best complementary notes in perfume–try Clinique Aromatics Elixir and Serge Lutens Sa Majesté de la Rose to see what I mean–there is no reason why they can’t be paired for tisanes.

wild thyme2

The river banks are covered with a carpet of wild thyme, which turns purple-blue as the summer rolls on. At midday the fragrance fills the air, veiling the whole riverside with a spicy, pungent warmth. Why have I never found this fragrance in a perfume bottle? I stuff several stems into my purse and shirt pockets and feel glad that I skipped a splash of orange blossom cologne. On reflection, a teaspoon of orange blossom water mixed with black tea and wild thyme would be perfect, and I pick a small bunch to dry for the winter.

Immortelle is one of my favorite perfume materials for its complex scent of maple syrup, spicy musk and black walnuts. The combination sounds incongruous, but a mere accent gives fragrances like Etat Libre d’Orange The Afternoon of a Faun and Hermès Brin de Reglisse a distinctive character. If you have more tolerance for immortelle’s heavy presence, then nothing beats Christian Dior Eau Noire and Annick Goutal Sables. They smell exactly the way our sandy strip overgrown with immortelle does. I take only a single stem to dry between the pages of my diary. The paper will hold the nutty perfume for months.

immortelle-vyarrow

Bitter is yarrow, a tall plant that blooms white or yellow. My great-grandmother swore by it for various medicinal blends, but I only smell the flowers and rub the lacy leaves, which leave a camphorous, piney scent on my fingers. Another bitter herb I spot in abundance is sage. It flowers amethyst-like purple and I can see its bright spikes all over the hills. Wormwood growth spreads like molten silver, and it’s good to sit somewhere under a pine tree, close my eyes and breathe in its intoxicating, bittersweet aroma. The horizon is still bright, but the shadows creep slowly into the valleys. The setting sun colors the grass gold and sienna, and I can see the first tentative glimmers of bonfires on the beach. Ukrainian pop songs echo through the valley. I see groups of people walking towards the river, carrying picnic baskets and blankets. I get up to join them. The Eve of Ivan Kupala is here.

Painting: Night on the Eve of Ivan Kupala by Henryk Hector Siemiradzki, via wiki-images, some rights reserved. The rest of the photography is by Bois de Jasmin.

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72 Comments

  • Minka: Enjoy your wonderful holiday, Victoria! How enchanting it must be! You’ve made my morning so much more special, thank you! July 7, 2014 at 7:48am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! It’s wonderful to spend the summer here and to see the season evolving. July 7, 2014 at 12:35pm Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hi V, I had a really busy week which prevented me from visiting your blog but it’s wonderful to hear that you’re having a great time in Ukraine. I keep praying for peace in your country.

    Thanks for the lovely read. Your description of wild flowers was so evocative. I envy you for being able to identify them. Since I lived in the city most of my life, I’m really bad at identifying plants and trees. I’m taking the same route through a forest for my morning walks and it’s amazing how plants and trees change so fast with time. The smells also change day to day. I especially love it when it has rained a few hours before and the air is filled with the fresh, earthy and green smell. I discovered some wild berries the other day and was so excited. They looked like raspberries but since I wasn’t sure, I didn’t try eating them. They could have been poisonous! July 7, 2014 at 8:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your nice words! It means a lot.

      My grandmothers on both sides were knowledgeable about plants, especially my father’s mother and my mother’s grandmother (in fact, they were the same age and lived through harrowing wartime circumstances, but one was in Russia and another in Ukraine). I wish I could ask them more, but even now I remember stories and explanations of various plants. And it comes handy during the perfumer’s training, because I know the scents of many plants in nature, not just in the processed form. July 7, 2014 at 1:19pm Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: That is a big advantage indeed! Since I didn’t grow up with natural perfumery materials around me, I’m trying to learn more about them now. I started taking frequent visits to a local botanical garden and I’m trying to find good guide books on flowers and trees.

        Your mention of grandmothers made me miss my gran who passed away a few years ago. I just had to dig out the letters she sent me. She also survived through difficult times (annexation and civil war) and unlike your grandmothers, she wasn’t well educated. She learnt to write much later in her life and had difficulty with spelling but that makes her letters even more special. July 8, 2014 at 2:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: Your grandmother sounds like a strong woman. And it’s so wonderful that you have her letters. These kind of mementos are more special than any others, and I treasure the letters I still have. In general, some of my favorite writing is the correspondence exchanged among writers, poets or other creative people I admire. If you like this genre, I can’t recommend the correspondence among poets Maria Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke highly enough. I’m certain the book exists in English and German. July 8, 2014 at 3:14pm Reply

  • Rachel: Beautiful story! I love thyme and immortelle in perfume. Is Sables very masculine? July 7, 2014 at 10:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I wouldn’t call it too masculine. It’s a unisex fragrance, and anyone can wear it. But people won’t think “a men’s cologne” if they smell it on you. It’s one of the best perfumes with immortelle and woods. July 7, 2014 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Eric: it makes me want to get me to the woods or if not that, a park! I wish I knew more plant names to identify what I’m smelling. July 7, 2014 at 10:24am Reply

    • Victoria: I found that when I moved to the US, I had difficulty naming plants. The flora is different enough! But there are wildflower books and even websites, so they be useful if you want to learn. July 7, 2014 at 1:21pm Reply

      • Eric: I google and found someone who leads a foraging tour in our city. Huh! July 7, 2014 at 3:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: That sounds like fun, and I’d be curious to know what sorts of things one can forage for in the city. Not that I’d want to forage in the urban space for a variety of reasons, but still, it might be interesting. July 7, 2014 at 4:35pm Reply

          • Ariane: Perhaps you are thinking of Marie Viljoen who writes the blog 66 Square Feet? She leads wonderful foraging tours in New York parks. It is amazing what can be found there! Ariane July 7, 2014 at 11:10pm Reply

            • Victoria: I haven’t read that blog, but it sounds like something I’m thinking about. I knew a Japanese language professor who had bee hives on the roof of his NYC apartment, made honey and sold it in the Union Square market. So, there must be lots of blooming plants in the city. July 8, 2014 at 2:36pm Reply

              • Ariane: I had friends who kept bees in the city, too! They had a townhouse in the West 80s. Marie’s blog is http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com
                I went on her walk in the wilder section of Central Park and loved it. Ariane July 9, 2014 at 8:39am Reply

                • Victoria: Thank you very much, Ariane. Makes me wish I could go on such a walk too. July 9, 2014 at 11:16am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: What a beautiful text & pictures! You really are a very talented writer.
    How fascinating that old, pagan traditions are still persisting. Your description is very evocative.
    Chamomile is also growing in the fields of Dutch Limburg. I adore it, maybe therefor I love Aromatics Elixir. I must revisit Sa Majesté la Rose: never thought there was chamomile in it.To my nose it is are rather sour kind of rose. I like only the drydown in the next day. July 7, 2014 at 10:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! When I was little, we used to camp out in tents on the river bank, picnic, dance and swim. It was a little frightening but also a lot of fun, since there were lots of people around.

      The drydown of Sa Majeste la Rose is my favorite part too. The start is a bit too metallic for my tastes, but it’s pretty enough. July 7, 2014 at 2:10pm Reply

    • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Cornelia, I just wanted to ask how the concert was? Did you enjoy it? July 8, 2014 at 2:52pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Anne! Yes, I enjoyed it. Beethovens last pianosonata’s are holy for me, if I may say so. It is more than music, it is profound philosophy.
        Krystian Zimerman is certainly a pianist who can interprete these works. So I was very angry and disappointed when he disturbed my concentration with some insignificant talking. And he granted us no time to build up new concentration, but began immediately with the sonata in c minor no. 32. opus 111.
        Before that I was most impressed. But nobody can play this imo like Maurizio Pollini (discs DGG), and even not Pollini himself. July 8, 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you for asking! July 8, 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Annette Reynolds: Victoria, this is such a beautifully evocative essay that I found myself closing my eyes after reading a sentence or two, just to savor the imagery.
    I could relate to the scent of Broom, as I have – probably – the only Spanish Broom plant in the Puget Sound Region. I’ll never forget the first time I smelled it: I had to follow my nose to the small nursery that happened to have several large bushes growing outside their gate. I bought a small plant then and there and planted it so that it’s gorgeous fragrance would waft throughout the house (and up into our bedroom). Here, it blooms from early May to late July and is my favorite fragrance in the garden (and that’s saying a lot, since I love so many)!
    Small-minded bureaucrats have labeled ANY Broom a noxious weed here in the Northwest (and, yes, the Scotch Broom that runs rampant everywhere should be considered a pest) and so I have to guard my plant carefully. (The nursery that sold them was told to remove them!) It has never once reseeded (much to my dismay) and so this is the year I plan on trying to make a cutting so that I’ll never be without this wonderful scent in my life.
    Enjoy your idylls. July 7, 2014 at 11:36am Reply

    • Victoria: Broom has one of the most incredible scents, and whenever I smell it, I wonder why more perfumes aren’t inspired by it. There is also a beautiful essence, but nothing comes close to the real thing. Enjoy your plant! July 7, 2014 at 2:23pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: Although I’m familiar with this tradition (under the name of St. John’s Eve, though), it was never celebrated when I lived in Poland. One of the explanations I found is that the Polish catholic church tried to suppress it because of its pagan roots and rituals. However, it seems that it’s experiencing a revival nowadays.
    As I was a child, my mother also used to collect herbs and we made various tisanes.
    I’ve bought chamomile floral water from a young Latvian company specialising in blossom waters made of northern herbs recently. It has a very strong herbal scent, though, which I have to get used to. But I might try some of their other hydrolates. July 7, 2014 at 11:49am Reply

    • Victoria: What is the name of that Latvian company? There are many Latvian products here in the stores, so I could check if they carry it too.

      It’s not surprising that the church tried to limit the celebrations, because there is so little of the Christian tradition in them! But it’s a lovely festival, and if one is in the country, it makes so much sense. July 7, 2014 at 2:27pm Reply

      • rainboweyes: The company’s name is Dabba. Another Latvian brand with many nice natural body care products (body dessert collection with various body marmalades!) is Kivvi Cosmetics.
        And I also bought a cranberry seed serum made by an Estonian company called Joik. It’s not too rich but very smooth and perfect for the summer. July 7, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much! I, of course, want that cranberry seed serum. :) And the chamomile water! July 7, 2014 at 4:46pm Reply

          • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Rainboweyes! I dabbed ISM (that means, I sprayed on my fingers and then dabbed on my wrist, maybe that gives the same result as dabbing from a splash bottle).
            Dabbed, it is softer and more flowery, sprayed it gives you that faschinating, earthy, carrot like smell to the full. July 8, 2014 at 7:09am Reply

            • rainboweyes: Thanks, Cornelia! I think I’ll go for the vapo this time, just for a change. And I can always dab it when I feel like it. I love the earthy carrot/turnip note, so amping it up will certainly do no harm ;) July 8, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: What a beautiful story- thank you so much for sharing with all of us. July 7, 2014 at 12:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: My pleasure! All of these scents beg to be captured somehow. July 7, 2014 at 2:27pm Reply

  • Kat: Thank you for another lovely post. I was wondering…what kind of aroma the cornflowers have, if any? July 7, 2014 at 12:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: Just went out in the garden to smell them. They have an earthy, milky aroma, and it’s light but persistent. July 7, 2014 at 2:28pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: great description! also cornflowers are growing abundantly in the Limburgian fields. July 8, 2014 at 3:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: They are some of my favorite flowers! July 8, 2014 at 3:22pm Reply

  • Aisha: We’re visiting my parents in Hawaii this month (yes, the entire month). I wish I could describe the sights and smells of my hometown as well as you can for yours. Still working on my scent diary. It’s going to be a month-long exercise for me. :-)

    Beautiful post. July 7, 2014 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lucky you! I’ve never visited Hawaii, but a friend of mine says that it’s one of the most beautiful places she has visited. And she has traveled a lot. I can’t wait to hear any impressions and descriptions, of scents and anything else. I will enjoy it vicariously. :) July 7, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

  • Bea: What a lovely essay Victoria, I can almost smell the herbs just by reading your description.

    I had no idea that you celebrate midsummer in Ukraine but it sounds wonderful. Wish you a happy Ivan Kupala! July 7, 2014 at 1:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t realize until this year that Ivan Kupala is the same celebration as midsummer! Yes, it’s a big deal around here. By the way, when I was little, I remember that many people got baptized in the river around the same time. We loved to go watch the ceremony, which seemed so otherworldly to us. July 7, 2014 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Kandice: What a wonderful tradition you get to enjoy! And I’m so envious of the natural bounty surrounding you. I live in the city, and it’s hard to find natural smells anywhere around, even in the parks. Thanks for sharing your experience with those of us not so lucky! July 7, 2014 at 2:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I miss all of these scents in the city, but I try to find other scented experiences in my urban setting. It’s more challenging, but it’s possible. For instance, I pick different leaves, crush them and smell them. Even something as ubiquitous as maple turns out to have a great scent this way. And of course, what can be better than the smell of fallen leaves in the park…
      Thank you, Kandice. I’m very happy that you’ve enjoyed it. July 7, 2014 at 2:34pm Reply

  • AndreaR: So beautiful. I can feel the sun and smell the river and the wildflowers. This has nothing to do with medicinal herbs, but my Ukrainian grandmother said they always kept a piece on moldy bread around. They certainly didn’t know it as penicillin then and I can’t remember how she said they used it, but it must have done the trick. There also left a spider web in one corner of their little house in the village. The silk of the spider web was used to staunch bleeding. July 7, 2014 at 2:41pm Reply

    • Victoria: Fascinating! I love learning bits like this, and I try to ask older folk. My grandmother lived in the city most of her life, so she knows comparatively little, but when I start asking, she remembers more and more. July 7, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

      • AndreaR: City or village, the stories are still wonderful and offer a peek into our grandparent’s lives, enriching our own. July 7, 2014 at 4:22pm Reply

        • rainboweyes: From a documentary about everyday life in the Middle Ages I learnt that wounds were trated with moldy bread. The penicillin apparently prevented infections. July 7, 2014 at 4:27pm Reply

        • Victoria: So true! It’s amazing to see how some things have changes but others not at all. July 7, 2014 at 4:45pm Reply

  • kaori: Thank you for sharing beautiful pictures. For me, your story is very informative, the midsummer festival, and intriguing. Have a wonderful holiday! July 7, 2014 at 9:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it! It was fun to keep track of everything as I walked, and when I got home, I had a little bunch of different herbs. I was thinking that I might just dry them all and it will be my Ivan Kupala tea. :) July 8, 2014 at 2:33pm Reply

  • Michaela: Although I love your articles, I find this one absolutely fascinating. I’ve been reading it again and again. The pictures are wonderful, too. And Cehov’s story…

    I can imagine the atmosphere and the scene, and some of the scents (I love chamomille, sage, wild thyme, and immortelle).
    Wild plants are fascinating. I believe your are right, there is a scientific explanation to pick them in season. I remember I read somewhere there is a similar tradition between carpenters, they say you have to cut the tree on a night with full moon, related to I don’t know what religious event. It’s been scientifically demonstrated why: the wood seems to posses the best qualities at that time of the year, humidity, and temperature. What I mean is that ancient knowledge may come to us in popular stories, songs, customs…
    As long as people celebrate, weave wild flowers, pick wild plants, value and use them, love the sunset down the river, remember what great-grandmothers taught them, I believe we are not lost.
    I am happy for you! I hope you had a wonderful time! July 8, 2014 at 5:35am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Michaela! I have been testing and jotting down perfume reviews, but whenever I go outside, the fragrances around are so incredible that I want to write about them, rather than something inside the perfume bottle. (But, of course, there will be lots of reviews coming up too!)

      Speaking of ancient knowledge, my grandmother just said that we must pick garlic before July 12th, which is a saint’s day. Apparently, if you pick it afterwards, the bulbs fall apart. :) July 8, 2014 at 2:52pm Reply

  • solanace: This was just beautiful, Victoria. Your blog is a celebration of feminine culture, and these surviving bits of pagan knowledge that are passed from mother to daughter are fascinating. I rely very much on herbal medicine, especially for the kids, since they always have a cough or a harsh or an insect bite. Thank you for sharing your refreshing view of Ukraine. How colorful it all is, when you are walking instead of inside a car!
    You reminded me of this interesting book that talks, among other things, of the pagan origin of holidays:
    http://www.amazon.com/Astronomies-Cultures-Early-Medieval-Europe/dp/0521778522
    It is a scholarly work, and there are some technical bits, but it is well written and a nice read. July 8, 2014 at 7:31am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Thank you, it’s on my list! July 8, 2014 at 8:17am Reply

      • solanace: You´ll enjoy it, Cornelia! July 8, 2014 at 12:40pm Reply

        • Cornelia Blimber: I will go to the bookshop tomorrow! July 8, 2014 at 3:23pm Reply

          • solanace: Have fun! July 9, 2014 at 6:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, thank you so much for this recommendation! I browsed through the book, and I loved it. Might get a copy once I return home. There is something so fascinating about all of these intricate customs, traditions, and superstitions.

      The nature here, around Poltava, is stunning. It’s a flat land, for the most part, but seeing the endless colorful fields is so exciting. July 8, 2014 at 3:00pm Reply

      • solanace: I grew up in a plain landscape, the cerrado. Google if you have time, it´s beautiful. From a car it seems there is nothing there, but if you go walking you notice there are soft hills and small creeks, little clear streams forming tiny waterfals and many colorful little flowers all around, year long.
        The book is great, I think you´ll enjoy both reading it and having it as a reference. July 9, 2014 at 6:14am Reply

        • Victoria: It looks so beautiful! I love this kind of landscape, because it seems so familiar, but I also find mountains exotic and exciting. Whenever I visit someplace mountainous, I almost find it hard to believe that it’s real. July 9, 2014 at 11:16am Reply

          • Solanace: I know what you mean. I felt like that crossing the Col du Grand Saint Bernard, from Italy to Switzerland. Surreal. And the mountains are so impossible to capture on pics! July 9, 2014 at 6:22pm Reply

            • Victoria: Surreal was how I felt when I was in Salzburg this spring. “Is this for real?” I kept wondering that the picturecard perfect landscapes. July 10, 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Reading your lovely post on summer in Ukraine I was suddenly reminded of our summer holidays in Norway when I was little. It must be wonderful to have all these knowledgeable ladies on one family. You are very blessed to have (had) them.
    On another note: Have you ever read any of the Cadfael detective stories? They are hardly great literature but make for some enjoyable light reading. Quite a few of them were made into a TV series with Sir Derek Jacobi as the lead. Cadfael is a herbalist monk cum detective in medieval England. Medicinal plants play a part there too! July 8, 2014 at 7:37am Reply

    • Austenfan: I mean “in” not “on” July 8, 2014 at 7:41am Reply

    • solanace: This sounds interesting, I like such monastic universes. July 8, 2014 at 2:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t read these stories, but I bet I’d love them. A detective story–check. A curious protagonist–check. :)

      Norway is definitely on my list of places to visit, and I’d love any recommendations from you or others. July 8, 2014 at 3:03pm Reply

      • Austenfan: We stopped visiting Norway when I was 11 or 12 years old. So I have all these images in my head of fjords and glaciers but have absolutely no idea where to situate them.
        I think the coast offers probably the most spectacular scenery. July 8, 2014 at 3:47pm Reply

        • Victoria: Fjords and glaciers fascinate me the most. Ah, so many dream destinations and so little time (and so few resources!) July 9, 2014 at 11:11am Reply

  • sanna: As a child I lived in a small town by the rivers Wisła and Narew, in Central Poland, and I spent all my vacations in a village outside Zamość, not so far from Ukraina! So I think we have a lot of common olfactive memories. The same landscapes, the same plants. (Oh, the smell of pink clover flowers, what do you think?) Greetings from Poland! July 8, 2014 at 11:19am Reply

    • Victoria: You’re so right, Sanna! When I worked in Poland, I kept thinking how familiar the landscapes looked, and I loved the ladies by the side of the road selling various berries and wildflowers. I can never resist those ladies and their wares.

      Pink clover flowers smell sweet, with a touch of cinnamon to me, and I love this light scent. I especially love when the clover field is just cut, when the scent of greens and flowers hangs in the air. Then it feels so summery! July 8, 2014 at 3:11pm Reply

  • Ariadne: How lovely, enchanting and transportive!(should be a word, if not ;+&).
    Great post and replies! July 9, 2014 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Ariadne! I also loved the comments and learned lots of interesting things, as always. July 9, 2014 at 3:20pm Reply

  • nozknoz: Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Andrei Rublev, which is loosely based on the life of the great 15th-century Russian icon painter, has a beautiful segment that features this holiday and pagan rituals. July 13, 2014 at 3:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: A powerful film! Thank you for reminding me of it. I don’t remember that scene, but some other images stand out. It’s time to see it again! July 14, 2014 at 3:31pm Reply

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