Tradition has it that on June 23 you go to the countryside or the woods, walking barefoot on the grass, to collect aromatic herbs, wild plants and flowers ... and why not, even in your green corner of the house if you grow them!
Even today this particular moment linked to tradition it is considered the best time of the year to harvest some herbs.
In these very special days two events coincide: the feast of St. John Baptist and the summer solstice. It is customary to celebrate them with the ignition of fires symbolically a sign of purification and rebirth and with the preparation of a valuable water.
There is nothing more beautiful than contributing to carry on ancient traditions starting from cultivation of St. John's herbs even in our green spaces at home!
Where does this custom come from?
Since ancient times, the nights preceding the summer solstice they are considered magical, where the Christian and Pagan traditions are founded by speaking in two different languages of the same fascinating events of those days. Extraordinary things happen between 20 and 24 June where the sunlight touches its maximum presence during the day. This astronomical event represented for many ancient populations the power of the Sun god over the night, capable of confer ownership magical to fire and dew and also to our beloved ones plants.
According to the ancient peoples the union of the sun and the moon was capable of giving plants unique properties, in fact, the herbs collected on the night of June 23, would have a unique power, thanks to the astral influences and the blessed dew of St. John.
In many Italian cities the feast of San Giovanni is very much felt and is and is celebrated with religious functions and historical re-enactments.
The bonfires that are still lit today in some places during the night of San Giovanni are linked to what was once "the night of the witches". The fire symbolically has a function of rebirth and purification, in the bonfire it is used burn the bunch herbs collected the previous year that protected the house, hung in a chosen place.
What are the herbs to harvest?
They are many and all present in different ways in various territories, many of them can be grown in pots and always kept on hand to be used in different ways. Among the best known we certainly find theHypericum, called “St. John's wort” or “scacciadiavoli”, according to tradition, attacking it outside the door would protect against misfortunes, it is also a very powerful remedy used in phytotherapy.
The rosemary, very present in gardens and in pots, would keep evil and envy away, the lavender, has always protected linen and all members of the family.
There sage, beloved in the kitchen, it smells and cheers with its unique green, protecting the home from the evil of the world.
There mint, purifies and guarantees long life, while the fern, would ensure good earnings.
Lmugwort it protects against lightning and disease and is found in abundance in the woods outside the cities.
Rue is ease, verbena, calendula is chamomile complement the most important herbs that give their best at this time of year.
Definitely the propitiatory rite it is not a thing of our times but to compose a bouquet of fragrant flowers and herbs remains a delightful and satisfying gesture! It will cheer up the house and make us happy when we go to pick flowers or choose to grow them, rediscovering an ancient tradition.
So let's see together how to prepare water and fire.
The Bunch of San Giovanni
You too can create your bunch of herbs to burn the fire on the night of San Giovanni, is a beautiful ancient tradition to continue even today. It is difficult to establish a precise list: the variations are so many, the difference is given by the blooms that each territory offers but also by your personal taste. Every flower and every herb has a symbolic meaning and details property.
During the fires of San Giovanni burn the dried medicinal herbs you collected the previous year. From this night on you can collect the new herbs in order to keep them as natural remedies useful throughout the course of the new year or hanging a bunch to dry as protection of the house.
With the summer solstice, nature also reaches its maximum splendor and it is precisely at this moment that the herbs for the new bunch are gathered.
How to prepare St. John's water
Immerse the herb crop in a pitcher with water and display it outdoors, under the moonlight, during the night between 23 and 24 June. When the day comes, use thewater of San Giovanni to wash your hands and face as a sign of renewal and with the aim of propitiating the start of a new season.
Happy summer everyone!