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An Italian Tradition To Pass On

T&D group member Alessia shares a tradition for the summer solstice from her Italian heritage.

Put a nature hike in your schedule, in search of wild herbs. June 23rd is indeed a magical night, during which St. John's water is traditionally prepared to collect the dew of the gods. Legend has it that St. John's water possesses protective healing virtues and brings health, luck and love.

The magic of St. John's night

June 23rd, the night preceding the birth of St. John the Baptist, has always been considered a magical night, during which propitiatory and purifying rites are celebrated. The magic is linked to the summer solstice, which marks the beginning of the new beautiful season. The summer solstice falls on the longest day of the year, and at this time nature reaches its peak. Despite the strong rebirth, care must be taken to watch out for unfortunate events such as drought, severe storms or plant diseases, which would ruin crops.

To ward off adversity, propitiatory bonfires representing the sun are made and St. John's water is prepared to collect dew, which symbolizes the moon. St. John's water would bring good luck and prosperity due to the incredible power of flowers and would be able to protect crops, warding off calamities.

How St. John's water is prepared

St. John's water is prepared to harness the strength and power of plants and flowers soaked in the dew of the gods. In fact, it is believed that during the night of St. John's Day the dew of the gods falls, capable of influencing plants and flowers by giving them a special strength: the summer solstice is said to be the door through which the gods let the new born pass, precisely in the form of dew.

Legend has it that this magical water brings good luck, love and health, that it is able to ward off disease and calamity and protect crops. In order to prepare St. John's water, one must gather a myriad of wild herbs and flowers. In choosing flowers and herbs, there is no real rule. You generally let your instincts inspire you by choosing from the species you have available.

Which flowers to make St. John's water with

Traditionally, St. John's water is prepared using wild herbs and flowers, which are believed to be beneficial for health and considered sacred in many different cultures.

So you can pick St. John's Wort, also known as St. John's Wort, mallow, which has healing and soothing properties, as well as lavender flowers, known for their relaxing scent. If you wish, you can also add herbs, such as rosemary and sage, and to give the water a splash of color, insert a few rose petals, a few poppies but also chamomile flowers, known for their calming properties.

Generally at this time of year, flowers of St. John's Wort, lavender, mugwort and mallow, and flowers and leaves of mint, rosemary and sage are collected. You can also find and collect cornflowers, poppies, roses or chamomile, depending on the blooms in your area.

It is recommended to respect nature when collecting herbs, not to collect excessive amounts of specimens and not to uproot plants.

To prepare St. John's water, we recommend using a glass or ceramic bowl. It is preferable to avoid using metal or plastic materials, as they may affect the purity and properties of the water.

When is St. John's water put out?

To enhance its healing powers, St. John's water is traditionally left outside during the night of June 23rd to 24th. This practice is based on the idea that the moonlight and subsequent dew enrich the beneficial properties of the water.

On the morning of June 24th, St. John's water is used to wash hands and face, in a kind of purifying ritual that will bring love, luck and health.

I love to share these traditions with others and would like to hear if you have any traditions or rituals that you practice at this time of year?

Thank you to Alessia for sharing your writing and heritage with us!

The Feast of Saint John, by Jules Breton (1875).


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