Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day
When is Midsummer’s Day?
Midsummer’s Day, the middle of summer, falls on on 24 June, after the longest day (Summer Solstice). Before the change of calendars, Midsummer’s day fell on 5 July.
Why are Midsummer’s Day and the Summer Solstice not on the same day?
The longest day in the northern hemisphere is today either the 20th or 21
st of June, whilst Midsummer’s Day in Europe is traditionally on 24 June.
This discrepancy is said to have been caused by the variants of the Julian Calendar and the Tropical Year further confused by the Gregorian Calendar.
What used to happen on Midsummer’s Eve?
Midsummer’s Eve is a time associated with witches, magic, fairies and dancing.
On the eve of Midsummer’s Day, many bonfires were lit all over the country. This was in praise of the sun, for the days were getting shorter and the sun appeared to be getting weaker, so people would light fires to try and strengthen the sun.
Midsummer’s Eve today
Practice of this ancient ritual, which also includes a Summer Solstice Circle Dance, is now mainly confined to Cornwall, the West Country, and London’s Hampstead Heath.
Roses are of special importance on Midsummer’s Eve. It is said that any rose picked on Midsummer’s Eve, or Midsummer’s Day will keep fresh until Christmas.
At midnight on Midsummer’s Eve, young girls should scatter rose petals before them and say:
Rose leaves, rose leaves,
Rose leaves I strew.
He that will love me
Come after me now.
Then the next day, Midsummer’s Day, their true love will visit them.