Monday, 15 June 2015
The Midsummer festive spirit
It's weird that modern people in some countries like the UK only celebrate midwinter but forget all about celebrating the midsummer solstice. They only feel festive in midwinter but neglect the summer solstice, depriving themselves and everyone else including children of being joyful twice a year. However, some people do celebrate the midsummer sun in countries like Sweden and Finland where it's an important and wonderful time. Pagans celebrate the summer solstice and many of them call it Litha. Christians believe it's the birthday of St. John the Baptist.
Decourations for midsummer solstice are often explosive displays of beautiful colourful flowers. Many hanging backets cascade with rainbows fresh flowers like roses, pansies, asters, gerberas, lilies, orchids, carnations, tulips, geraniums and primroses. Wild flowers such as jasmine, daisies, lavender, sweat peas, mountain laurel, heather, iris, allium and bluebells race the fields, tables, buckets, urns and pots. Some choose to introduce tropical flowers to wear and decourate, to emphasise the summer and the sun's golden rays. These exotic colourful flowers like morning glory, lotus, chrysanthemum, alipnia, dahlias, hibiscus and plumeria rubra are some favourites. If not having loads of flowers all over the house, garden and street, some wear flowers in their hair or use floral print clothes.
Now many countries make bonfires to symbolise the midsummer sun. In Sweden they have a Midsummer pole, or Majstag, made with twisted green leaves and shaped like a cross, Tiwaz rune or Algiz the life rune with rings on each etension. The pole is like both a tall green pillar and a tree. The shape generates a sense of fertility. These midsummer poles can be made in miniature out of straw, reeds, grass, paper.. to decourate the house and banquet tables.
Dewdrops and rainfall on midsummer night has healing powers. Not only was dewdrops and rain water used in medicines and drinking but to add in baking. Birch leaves during midsummer was thought to be so divine that it was used to bandage wounds and cure all manner of pain. Midsummer is also when elves, trolls, goblins and fairies appear if seen in the right angle. Women and girls wear crowns of flowers and dance around the midsummer pole.
In Sweden, pick nine different flowers and don't tell anyone, increases the magic. Flowers under a girl's pillow granted her wishes during midsummer night. And if she dreams of her future husband it will come true. Wreaths made of flowers hung from doors and ceilings protected the home against malicious spirits. Good luck happens if your propert has two birch trees near the door and some people planted them.
Food can be as bright as a lush garden. Seeded breads, pickled herring, horseradish and mustards, cured fish, tomato, herbs, shallots, roasted lamb, fruit, cheese, boiled mint covered potatoes, boiled eggs, lemon and lime, asparagus, salads, cake and beans. The drinks are beer, snaps, strawberry juice and mint tea. Much of what foods I've mentioned here are popular in Sweden at Midsummer.