Sunday, June 17, 2007

Midsummer


As you have surely noticed, the nights are getting shorter, the days hotter, and the required clothing necessary for public decency is getting less, and less. This is not a new phenomena. Even Shakespeare noted it, much more poetically than I will ever be able to pretend, in his tale about the one of the few nights in the year where mysterious, magical, sometimes spooky, but always enchanting beings can interact with mankind. (The other three nights are the other solstice, Mid-Winter's Eve, and the cross-quarter days, All Hallow's Eve, and Beltane, also known as May Day.)

I have blogged in the past about the importance of Midsummer, but, that was a year ago, and perhaps you have forgotten everything that needs to be done to get ready. It's actually not much, just clean house, gather wood for bonfires, take naps now so you can stay up late on a weeknight... but anyway here is a short list of traditions that you can try. If you aren't afraid to go out to play with all the fairies, that is.


  • Traditionally, you are supposed to stay up to midnight on the night before solstice, the 20th, to welcome the day of sunlight, and then the night of Solstice burn fires to say good-bye to the sun.

  • If you don't want to burn bonfires, you can just burn herbs at midnight to appease Odin.

  • Also, at midnight, you are supposed to run naked into the nearest body of water to ensure good fortune for the coming year. I, personally, will now be avoiding all bodies of water at midnight, especially the community pool.

  • Wash all your linen, beat all your rugs, and make everything fresh to keep the fairies out.

  • Dew gathered on Midsummer's Night can heal sicknesses.

  • Water gathered on Midsummer's Night will have magical properties.

  • Leaves gathered on Midsummer's Night and used as bandages relieve pain.

  • Midsummer is supposed to be a favorable time to find a boyfriend/girlfriend. If you know who you want, and you need to make them want you, you are supposed to roll around on their property naked in the light of the midsummer moon. (Just don't let them or any of their family members catch you because "midsummer" is not a legal defense for trespass.)

  • An unmarried girl is supposed to fast on Midsummer Eve and at midnight set her table with a clean cloth, bread, cheese and ale, then leave her yard door open and wait. The boy she will marry, or his spirit, will come in and feast with her.

  • If you don't know who you want to marry, according to Nordic tradition, if you place wildflowers under your pillows on Midsummer Eve you will dream of your future mate. Some traditions say you must gather nine flowers, some say you must gather them in silence, and some say that one of the flowers must be gathered from a churchyard. You might want to do all three requirements to make it work. I haven't yet tried the churchyard flowers yet. Somehow, it just seems like stealing to me.

  • Also, on Midsummer's Eve a single woman should write the letters of the alphabet on pieces of paper. Then she must place them face down in water. On Midsummer's morning her true love's initial should be facing up. I think that this tradition could be a unisex tradition.

  • But, all you guys out there, you must crawl under a blackberry bush on Midsummer's Day to catch a glimpse of your future mate's shadow. I am not sure how a glimpse of a shadow will help much, but then, dreams and initials don't help all that much either.

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