The fires of the midsummer


Klidonas (Midsummer)
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One of the most impressive and beautiful Midsummer customs in Crete is Klidonas that has its roots in antiquity. Klidonas is derived from the ancient word Klidon (κληδών) meaning the sign or the omen and is celebrated every year on June 24, the day of the Nativity of John the Baptist. Lately, many villages in Crete have years revived the old custom that was tended to disappear.

Tradition has it that the girls of the village go to the fountain of the village on the eve of Saint John (June 23) and one of them, the aquifier, fills a jar with water. She then has to return to the central square of the village while remaining silent and not replying to the teasings of the crowd. The water is then transferred to a pitcher and is usually placed in the village square. Then, each girl leaves a "rizikari", i.e. a lucky charm that may be a fruit, some jewelry, etc. Then the pitcher is covered with a red cloth and is "locked", i.e. tied with a string, and left in an open space for all night in the starlight.

At the same time, the boys of the village collect the dried burn the dried Mayday wreaths from the doors and make piles. They fire them up and then each boy jumps over the fire three times to keep evil away. The bonfire is usually accompanied by music and dancing.

During that evening the girls are said to see the face of the man they will marry in their dream. In the morning, June 24, the aquifier- girl must fetch the water the pitcher before dawn and transfer it indoors, so as not to lose the influence of the stars due to the sun. Sometime in the afternoon, all the girls gather, and whoever else wants. The aquifier opens the pitcher and then each girl picks a rizikari randomly and shows it around. There is someone that makes up small poets spontaneously that are then commented and interpreted by the crowd and try to foretell the future of the uknown girl that owns that rizikari.

After removing all objects from the pitcher, the aquifier pours the water crosswise into a well and then covers the well with a red cloth. Later girls and boys lift the cloth and put their head underneath. At the same time the aquifier uses a mirror to reflect the rays of the sun or the moon in the well and all girls drop their rizikari in the well, one at a time. On the waves formed they see metaphysical phenomena or loved persons or the person that they will marry, etc. Also, they say that the sex of the first person they see when they go out of the cloth, will be the sex of their first child.

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