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Learn German Culture – Johannistag (Midsummer’s day) in Germany

Johannistag is Midsummer’s day in Germany. It is held in June of each year and is centered on summer solstice. It is also said to represent the day of John the Baptist. During this time, people were of the impression that the midsummer plants had healing and miraculous powers.

The celebration begins with a lit bonfire that is indicative of getting rid of evil spirits who were thought to be on the loose when the sun turned to the south, which was when the midsummer began.

In Germany, a decree was issued by the Nuremberg town council on June 20th 1653, which allowed the people of Germany the right to celebrate this occasion around their bonfires as they carried out their superstitious activities of ridding their town of all kinds of evil spirits.

The Midsummer’s day begins on June 24th of each year and is an indication of the beginning of the summer. It is a cultural event to use this day as a celebration depending on what each country believes. As discussed above, the Germans believe that this day is the designated day to get rid of evil from their communities.

They plan this bonfire ceremony to cast out all spirits that want to come in and harm them. Some of these spirits were thought to be from the witches in the area that called them out during their celebration of the Midsummer Day.

The Summer solstice link to Midsummer Day began in ancient times. During this time, “need-fires,” is one of the German practices that exemplify the Midsummer Day. It was used in a religious practice to heal the domestic animals. The animals were driven between two fires that were started by rubbing wood together.

To prevent disease in pigs, they also passed through the fires. In the mountain areas, the folks extinguish all fires from their homes and walk to a specific location with their farm animals. They light a fire and let the animals pass through it to prevent any type of plague in their villages.

The need-fires take place in different areas during the Midsummer Day and is thought of being a preventative action against any disease that may occur later.