Jāņi Vakar

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St.John's Nnight

Although the celebration has adopted the religious name it still remains a mostly pagan tradition. The longest day and shortest night of the year is a time for food, drink, song, and bonfires. People stay up all night launching fireworks as the sun sets, a more modern tradition, and bathing themselves in the warm summer waters at sunrise just a few hours later. Traditional foods include beer and cheese with caraway seeds although the Russian shashlik is also popular.


Caraway Cheese

Although native to Asia Minor caraway seeds have gained popularity in Eastern Europe. Popular due to their strong flavor caraway cheese is key to any Jāņi celebration. The seed is always in abundance in most Eastern European countries due to it's resilient nature, something which cannot be said for many other spices. Known for it's long winters and short harvest times the cuisine is often focused more on obtaining fat and sustenance rather then flavor making cheese a common choice. Although this is a festival of plenty the traditional dish serves as a reminder that the prosperity and abundance will only last so long.