The water of San Giovanni

23 June, 2018

June 24th is the night of San Giovanni (St. John the Baptist), always considered a magical night, which follows the summer solstice when the sun is at its peak and gives strength and vigor to nature and its creatures.

The ancients believe that this night is particularly magical because on this very night "the dew of the Gods fell". The legend has it that the summer solstice is the door through which the gods let the newborns pass in the form of dew.

St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence (but also Turin!) and during this week in the city you can assist to many celebration and events like the calcio storico or the fireworks. But in the countryside the feast in honor of St. John is considered the first day of a new season and of magic, where nature is in its greatest vigor and splendor and the rebirth is strong. Therefore it is necessary to channel these forces so as not to incur in adverse events, like diseases, droughts or storms, and to protec the crops.

Legend has it that during this night the sun, represented as fire, marries with the moon, represented as water. From this belief the bonfires and dew rituals are born, present in the peasant and popular tradition. In this night the plants and flowers are influenced by a particular strength and to exploit it at its best you can prepare the water of San Giovanni. Another legend tells that during this magical and powerful night, witches gathered around an ancient walnut tree, and with the fruits of these bewitched trees, still green and dewy, they prepared the nocino, a liqueur considered therapeutic . The recipe for this in the next post…

To prepare the water of San Giovanni you must collect, during the eve of June 24th, a mixture of herbs and flowers that can be composed of brooms, poppies, cornflowers, rose petals and cultivated roses, honeysuckles, fragrant leaves of the St. Mary's wort, mint, St. John's wort (also called St. John's wort which has properties comparable to some psychotropic drugs), elder bunches, garofanetti, clover, ranunculus, lavender, chamomile matricaria, thyme, amaranth, basil, sage, rosemary, centinode, mallow and walnut leaves, artemisia (also called absinthe vulgar and dedicated to Diana-Artemis), wild fennel (powerful amulet useful to sharpen the eye in deception), oats (symbol of abundance that helps to make the right choice). At sunset you have to immerse them in a basin of water and leave them out all night so that the magic dew settles on them. On the morning of the 24th you can wash your face and body with this scented water, in a sacred and mysterious rite handed down for years. This water has the power to preserve from disease, drive away the evil eye and the bad luck.

Another custom of the night of St. John is the fires, lighting a fire during this night is a propitiatory and purifying rite in fact it is believed that they shoo demons and witches and prevent diseases. If you dance around the fire, the witches fly off in the sky before going to the legendary walnut tree of Benevento where their annual convention is held; to strengthen friendship and solidarity with the chain of hands; you can become immune from adversity by jumping the embers back and forth. And then it is believed that young people who will jump the embers of the fire will marry within the year and if you jump with your partner it favors the birth of a baby. The ash from the fires of San Giovanni, scattered in the fields, is thought to protect the seeds from the pests, while an extinguished ember of this magic fire protects the house from thieves.

Our flowers are ready and tomorrow morning our guests will be able to experience the effects of San Giovanni water!
Good celebration of St. John to all and if you are in Florence do not miss the bonfire and the fireworks;)

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