The Eve of Ivan Kupalo


Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala

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Piotr is a modest farmhand living in an impoverished village in some unspecified long ago era. He wants to marry the lovely Pidorka, but her stern father won’t hear of it. Luckily for Piotr, the mischievous demon Bassaruv is loose in the land, and offers him a deal: pluck a flower that blooms only on the eve of Ivan Kupalo and he’ll grace the penniless Piotr with several bags of gold. The only thing is, Bassaruv is in fact the Devil himself and, together with an equally diabolic witch, tricks Piotr into killing the youthful brother of his desired bride.

As promised, Piotr is given a mound of gold, which convinces Pidorka’s father to allow the marriage to go forth. But Piotr finds himself afflicted with amnesia… And quite a few bizarre hallucinations (a bleeding loaf of bread, people walking on his ceiling, etc.). His memory finally returns on the following eve of Ivan Kupalo, but his house burns to the ground, incinerating Piotr inside.

The widowed Pidorka finds herself understandably grief-stricken. She becomes a nun and takes to wandering the land with Piotr’s ashes. One day, however, she’s harassed by a horse-riding army led by the demonic Bassaruv, and spills most of the ashes. In desperation, Pidorka takes what little remains of her beloved to a candlelight festival honoring an icon of the Virgin Mary—it cries magical tears apparently capable of raising the dead…

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