Equinox and solstice come from the Latin words aequinoctium and solstitium. Since time immemorial, people have celebrated solstices and equinoxes. The winter solstice is related to Jesus’s birth, the summer solstice is related to St. John the Baptist’s birth. They were second cousins. The former was the son of Mary and the latter the son of her cousin Elisabeth. The birth of John the Baptist preceded that of Jesus by six months. On the summer solstice, herbs have a special energy. There are many practices related to the magic night of St. John. On that day people start bonfires, which are the symbol of purification, and pluck special herbs, above all, the hypericum also called Saint-John’s-wort.

In Sicily, it was believed that on the eve of Saint John’s day it was possible to make predictions about the future.  Girls of marriageable age performed some rituals to get to know the man they would marry and his job.

One of the rituals was the following:

The evening before the night of Saint John, they took three broad beans. They then peeled one, left another intact, and peeled only half of the third broad bean. Before going to sleep, they put the three broad beans under their pillows. The morning after, as soon as they woke up, they took out one of the broad beans under their pillows at random. If it was the peeled one, they would marry a poor man; if it was the one half-peeled, their marriage would be so-so; finally, if it was the unpeeled broad bean, they would have a happy marriage!

Do girls perform such rituals these days? I don’t think so. Perhaps, even marriage has become an obsolete institution!

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

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