Today’s Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). How are you taking advantage of the extra hours of light this time of year? Do you like it, or do you already miss earlier sunsets?
I was born and raised in Europe and the celebration of the longest day of the year was always a big spectacle. The planning of that special night of midsummer went on for days and everybody, young and old was involved.
Lots of bonfires were lit up in the early evening to protect against evil spirits, which were believed to roam freely that night, when the sun was turning south again. There was lots of singing, wine and good food, it seemed the whole village was on its feet and nobody stayed home. Oh, I can still smell the baked potatoes and apples in the open fire. Of course witches were on their way to meetings as well and we children listened to the old stories with big eyes and an open mouth standing between the bonfires. Some of us had enough imagination and could see them fly…needless to say I was one of them. The older people called it St. John’s evening and believed that some midsummer plants like St. John’s Wort had healing power and they picked them on this night. The evening ended every year with a spectacular procession of ships. Up to 40-50 ships sailed down the river in line and fireworks erupted from the hilltops and along shore. Yes, it was always a special night!
The extra hours or the extra light are not important to me, but until this day this night is still special. I do light a candle and think about my childhood and my roots way over there on the other side of the world. With a big smile and a good glass of wine in my hand once again I celebrate the wonderful memories and feel blessed…well, you asked 🙂