For us, Midsummer is considered the official beginning of summer, but for our ancestors, who only recognized two seasons (winter and summer), Midsummer was the middle of the season. The common factor between our ancestor’s celebration and ours is the Summer Solstice. On Midsummer, we celebrate the longest day of the year and the shortest night. The dark and cold of winter is firmly past and the days are full of vitality and life.
But first, we celebrate. The best-known symbol of Midsummer is the bonfire. In Europe, bonfires are still lit and burn the whole night through. Men and women gather to celebrate the warm days and the successful planting season by dancing around the bonfire. Many people focus on love and fertility during the summer solstice, with folk traditions that include picking wildflowers and putting them under one’s pillow to dream of the person they will marry. Couples often jump over the fire during Midsummer to be blessed by the Gods and the Ancestors.
The planting season is finished. The hard work that began with the blessing of the tools at Charming of the Plow and the planting of the seeds after Ostara has been finished. Now we tend to the growing crops and revel in the beauty of life. We can take a momentary break from the difficulties of life to embrace that which makes the hard work worth the effort.
As the revelry comes to an end, however, we must take the time to remember that the days will now begin to shorten once again. Winter will come and our hard work is not yet done.
Gythia Catie Erickson