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> Other Traditions
Brazil has the largest St John's festivities in the globe, ("Festas Juninas") with parties all over the country. The Northeastern region of Brazil concentrates the most elaborated parties, more specifically in the cities of Caruaru-Pernambuco, Campina Grande-Paraiba, Salvador-Bahia and in smaller cities like Cruz das Almas, Ibicui, Jequie and Ilheus also in Bahia. In Campina Grande and Caruaru, the festivities are approximately 30 days long.
In the evening on June 23, Catholics all over Brazil light a big fire, symbolizing a Catholic tale: During a conversation, John's mother, Elizabeth, agreed to light a big fire to notify her cousin Mary (mother of Jesus) that she had given birth, that she might get post-partum assistance from her cousin.
The feast day of Saint John the Baptist was a very popular event in the ancien régime of France, and it is still celebrated as a religious feast day in several countries, like Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
Similar festivities take place in Scandinavia. Bonfires are lit and effigees burned on the evening of June 23. People jump over the bonfires to prove their courage. Traditionally, three jumps cleanses one from sin and disease. One of the centers of the festival is in Ciutadella; but many different cities and towns have their own unique traditions associated with the festival. In recent years, public celebrations have begun cordoning off the fires for safety reasons.
In Poland the festival is known as 'sobótki'. Traditional folk rituals include groups of young men and women singing ritual songs to each other. The young women may wear crowns fashioned from wild flowers, which are later thrown into a nearby pond or lake. The boys/young men may then swim out to claim one of the crowns. Bonfires (and bonfire jumping) are also part of the proceedings.