Happy summer solstice! Today, the 21st June, is the longest day here in the northern hemisphere, and has been a time of celebration since the Neolithic era. You may already have seen snaps of the crowds welcoming the solstice at Stonehenge today but don’t worry! The festivities are far from over and there is still time to celebrate Midsummer.
What is Midsummer?
Midsummer is closely linked to the summer solstice and usually falls between the 19th and 24th June. This year Midsummer’s Eve falls on Friday 23rd – perfect for a party! Originally a pagan festival, this was an opportunity to welcome the summer season and pray for a successful harvest. In modern day, many still take this opportunity to celebrate the long days, good weather and wonderful food and drink that come along with summertime.
Ancient Traditions and Magic
Cleaning the house, decorating with flowers, dancing, eating, drinking and lighting bonfires were all ancient Midsummer’s Eve traditions. Competitions to jump over bonfires were common. The highest jump being believed to signify the height of the crops that year.
Much like at Halloween it was believed that the spirit realm was closer at Midsummer. This meant that ghosts and supernatural beings could supposedly cross over to our world more easily. For example, in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, mischief and mayhem are caused by fairies visiting the mortal realm. It’s believed that bonfires lit at Midsummer were to scare away these spirits as well as to amplify the sun’s heat to grow crops.
[Midsummer was seen as] a time when the normal laws of nature or divinity could be suspended, when spirits and fairies could contact humans, when humans could exceed the usual limitations of their world.
A quote by Ronald Hutton University of Bristol Professor of History
The magical nature of Midsummer also inspired young women to divine their love life during the festival. It was believed that placing flowers under your pillow on Midsummer’s Eve would make you dream of your future love. Or, if you gazed into a well at midnight, you may see your true love’s face reflected there.
Today the festival is most famously celebrated in Scandinavia, where being so close to the north pole, the sun does not set and the revelry can last all night long! It is still common to see traditional activities carried out in today’s celebrations. These include wearing flower crowns, dancing around maypoles with ribbons, and feasting.
In the UK, many modern druids gather at stone circles to see in the solstice. Town and village fairs may be held around this time as well as music festivals around the country.
If you’d like to host your own Midsummer celebration this weekend you could have a barbeque, and make your own wreaths or flower crowns. You could try making your own elderflower cordial to serve to your guests with this easy recipe. Or if you’d prefer to get out and about, you could go for an evening walk to enjoy the late light or visit the countryside to see summer in all it’s glory!
If you fancy trying a spot of magic on this ancient and mystical festival, try lighting a candle and make a wish for the fairies to hear. (This is lovely to try with children, under close supervision of course!)
A New Notebook Design For Summer
We have a notebook design cover called Midsummer which you can see here. But we wanted to add something new for this magical time of year… So here’s a sneak peek of our new design Folklore which we’ll be adding to our shop in three colourways very soon!
From the Billy team, we hope you have a wonderful Midsummer. Make sure to share your festivities with us on social media, we’d love to see what you get up to!