by Aldis Pūtelis
Janis is a problematic deity, as he is mentioned only in close relation with the festival of Midsummer's Night and therefore the name could be an adaptation of the Christian John the Baptist. Still, the festival itself is completely non-Christian, including ritual bonfires, known in many cultures, and some traces of a phallus cult can be found as well. Janis is one of deities to whom the description Dieva dēli is attributed, but this is a marginal phenomenon.
The main function of Janis is come once a year to grant fertility and fortune, and he must be treated properly prior to his arrival. There are attempts to explain the image astronomically — as a constellation seen mainly around the summer solstice. Generally all the customs show the features of a passage rite, the threshold event between two cycles, when the original chaos must be turned into cosmos again, and therefore the magic activities are to prevent evil from entering the house and causing permanent damage. The ritual fires must shine their light as far as possible (they are to be made on the top of a mountain, on a pole, or on the shore, made of old boats) to ensure fertility, while people (especially the young) should not sleep at night in order to become capable and good-looking.