St. John’s Eve

St. John’s Eve is a celebration of the summer solstice. In the 1830’s Marie Laveau did a head washing ceremony in Lake Pontchartrain. Today, a group led by Sallie Ann Glassman do the ceremony along the bayou in Midcity, either on the Magnolia Bridge or the nearby bank. While New Orleans voodoo originated in Africa and Haiti, the group that does this ceremony is largely white. Sallie Ann is one of the few white Americans ordained as a voodoo priestess in Haiti.

An altar is built for Laveau. The ceremony has drumming, singing and dancing. It starts an hour or so before sunset. Once dark, the head washing begins. Those participating wear all white and leave their offering on the altar. It is said that Marie particularly likes flowers and hair ribbons since she was a hairdresser. Sallie Ann continues the individual head washing. When done, people wrap their heads in a wrap and leave the ceremony refreshed.

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