Bonfires, Beer, and Buddy Holly on the Border

On our second day in Narva, we had the opportunity to celebrate St. John’s Day/Victory Day at the Narva Castle. St. Johns Day falls right around the summer solstice. Due to the northern location of Narva, it never gets completely dark around the time of the solstice. How about that for an all nighter? Good thing nature is on board with the study habits of the typical college student.

The festival is traditionally accompanied by a bonfire and perhaps less traditionally by rowdy Russian and Estonian youths attempting to jump over the fire after consuming an excessive number of fermented beverages.The entire festival was a rowdy but wonderfully fun mix of old and new, eastern and western. From the female pop-band belting out sugary Russian bubblegum pop music to the children running up on stage and making up rhymes. Even the over-the-top, suit wearing Russian host was energetic and funny. The dancers that danced to remixed techno versions of Russian folk songs like Katyusha and Kalinka were equally entertaining to watch. What genuinely surprised me was when the next band began playing American rock & roll music from the 50’s, like Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. They later moved on to Russian rock songs like Группа Крови (Gruppa Krovi, literally “Blood Type”) by the Russian rock band Kino.

It’s moments like these where one can appreciate global cultural osmosis. Not even 72 hours off the plane in Tallinn and here we are celebrating Estonian independence and St. Johns day by rocking out to a mix of American and Russian music, dancing with the local populace, huddling around the bonfire and having a good time, all within the confines of a 13th century historic castle. All the meanwhile, Ivangorod and the rest of Russia loom in the background, just across the river, the Russian flag fluttering in the midsummer night air atop the fortress. Awesome.

It was a moment in time where Estonians, Russians and American students alike could forget their worries, put aside their differences and enjoy the festivities. People of all ages, from small children to much older men and women were in attendance.

If seeing Russia from your house involves festivities and fun like this, then I envy you, Sarah Palin.

Dylan Lecce


4 thoughts on “Bonfires, Beer, and Buddy Holly on the Border

  1. Dylan, what a great post!!! You guys are in a fascinating spot, one that VERY few American students go to (since, most would cross the border). You’re going to be treated to a unique experience…as you’ve already found out!

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