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Thread: (How) Do You Celebrate Midsummer?

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    I'm also interested in past and present national/regional midsummer traditions.

    Do you celebrate midsummer or summer solstice in your country? Do you and/or your family celebrate it personally, make bonfires or go to festivals, etc? This year, in general? Do you have old superstitions, like putting flowers under the pillow and dreaming of a future husband, etc.?

    N.B. This thread is mostly about the heathen/pagan traditions. I'll make a separate thread for the Christian significance.

    Here is some general info I found for the customs in some Germanic countries from various sources. Feel free to add or correct anything:

    Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures.

    Germanic neopagans call their summer solstice festival Litha, which is part of the reconstructed Germanic calendar used by some Germanic Neopagans and takes its name from Bede's De temporum ratione that provides Anglo-Saxon names for the months roughly corresponding to June and July as se Ærra Liþa and se Æfterra Liþa (the "early Litha month" and the "later Litha month") with an intercalary month of Liþa appearing after se Æfterra Liþa on leap years. In modern times, Litha is celebrated by neopagans who emphasize what they believe to be the reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon Germanic paganism.

    In Sweden the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been serious discussions to make the Midsummer's Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is an activity that attracts families and many others. Greenery placed over houses and barns were supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues, even though most don't take it seriously. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May, or vice versa. Other researchers say the term came from German merchants who raised the maypole in June because the Swedish climate made it impossible to find the necessary greens and flowers in May, and continued to call it a maypole. Today, however, it is most commonly called a "midsommarstång" (literally midsummer pole). In earlier times, small spires wrapped in greens were erected; this probably predates the maypole tradition, which is believed by many to have come from the continent in the Middle Ages. Midsummer is also sprung from pagan rites, it has a lot to do with Freyja and Freyr which has a phallic symbol, and during the Viking age there were rituals centered around this, as a worshipping of fertility and a rich harvest, which is the older meaning of the celebration and the German merchant influence has very little to do with it overall. In Sweden Midsummer's day is a Saturday between June 20 and June 26, but as is usual in Sweden the actual celebration is on the eve, i.e. a Friday between June 19 and June 25. Midsummer's Eve is a de facto public holiday in Sweden with offices and many shops closed. Traditional Swedish midsummer was observed on June 24.

    in Finland, Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a midsummer or maypole (Swedish midsommarstång, majstång). Some Finland Swedes call the holiday Johannes after the Finnish term juhannus – or more accurately after the Biblical John the Baptist (="Johannes Döparen" in Swedish).

    In Norway, Sankthansaften is celebrated on June 23 and is largely regarded as a secular or even pre-Christian event. In most places, the main event is the burning of a large bonfire. In Western Norway, a custom of arranging mock weddings, both between adults and between children, is still kept alive. The wedding was meant to symbolize the blossoming of new life. Such weddings are known to have taken place in the 1800s, but the custom is believed to be older. It is also said that, if a girl puts flowers under her pillow that night, she will dream of her future husband.

    In Denmark, the solstitial celebration is called sankthans or sankthansaften ("St. John's Eve"). It was an official holiday until 1770, and in accordance with the Danish tradition of celebrating a holiday on the evening before the actual day, it takes place on the evening of 23 June. It is the day where the medieval wise men and women (the doctors of that time) would gather special herbs that they needed for the rest of the year to cure people. It has been celebrated since the times of the Vikings by visiting healing water wells and making a large bonfire to ward away evil spirits. Today the water well tradition is gone. Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although bonfires are built in many other places where beaches may not be close by (i.e. on the shores of lakes and other waterways, parks, etc.) In the 1920s, a tradition of putting a witch made of straw and cloth (probably made by the elder women of the family) on the bonfire emerged as a remembrance of the church's witch burnings from 1540 to 1693. This burning sends the "witch" away to Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain in the Harz region of Germany where the great witch gathering was thought to be held on this day. Some Danes regard the relatively new symbolic witch burning as inappropriate. In 1885, Holger Drachmann wrote a midsommervise (Midsummer hymn) called "Vi elsker vort land..." ("We Love Our Country") with a melody composed by P.E. Lange-Müller that is sung at every bonfire on this evening.

    On the Faroe Islands, St. John's Eve (jóansøka) is generally not celebrated. However, on the southernmost island of Suðuroy it is observed by lighting a bonfire. Only one bonfire is lit on the island as one of the two biggest towns hosts the celebration alternately every other year.

    In Iceland, Jónsmessa is celebrated on 24 June every year. Though the day is named for John the Baptist, Jónsmessa traditions in Iceland are more superstitious than religious. Icelanders celebrate their 21 hours of daylight by throwing a huge three-day Secret Solstice Midnight Sun Music Festival. It is said that cows are able to speak on Jónsmessa and seals become human. Moreover, it is good fortune to roll around naked in the morning dew on the 24th, a custom still practiced today by those particularly dedicated to the holiday.

    In Germany, the day of sun solstice is called Sommersonnenwende. On June 20, 1653 the Nuremberg town council issued the following order: "Where experience herefore have shown, that after the old heathen use, on John's day in every year, in the country, as well in towns as villages, money and wood have been gathered by young folk, and there upon the so-called sonnenwendt or zimmet fire kindled, and thereat winebibbing, dancing about the said fire, leaping over the same, with burning of sundry herbs and flowers, and setting of brands from the said fire in the fields, and in many other ways all manner of superstitious work carried on — Therefore the Hon. Council of Nürnberg town neither can nor ought to forbear to do away with all such unbecoming superstition, paganism, and peril of fire on this coming day of St. John." Bonfires are still a custom in many areas of Germany. People gather to watch the bonfire and celebrate solstice.

    In Austria the midsummer solstice is celebrated each year with a spectacular procession of ships down the Danube River as it flows through the wine-growing Wachau Valley just north of Vienna. Up to 30 ships sail down the river in line as fireworks erupt from the banks and hill tops while bonfires blaze and the vineyards are lit up. Lighted castle ruins also erupt with fireworks during the 90-minute cruise downstream. Austrians also come together to light hundreds of mountain fires to mark this magical time. Stemming from a medieval tradition, it’s thought that these fires were ways to worship the earth. Nowadays, revelers can make use of cable car systems to get a bird’s eye view of the tradition, which is particularly popular in the Wilder Kaiser region of Tyrol, or simply head to Lake Achensee for a summer solstice cruise.

    In Great Britain from the 13th century, Midsummer was celebrated on Midsummer Eve (St. John's Eve, June 23) and St. Peter's Eve (June 28) with the lighting of bonfires, feasting and merrymaking. It's not surprising that the country in which Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is based has some pretty typical summer solstice celebrations, especially given the UK’s pagan past. Festivities in pre-Christian times focused on fairies, unicorns and other suitably mystical creatures. Nowadays, certain areas are reviving these processions and plays. Traditional Midsummer bonfires are still lit on some high hills in Cornwall. Naturally, Stonehenge sees many druids and pagans coming to witness the perfectly aligned sunrise, too. Midsummer festivals are celebrated throughout Scotland, notably in the Scottish Borders where Peebles holds its Beltane Week. The Eve of St. John has special magical significance and was used by Sir Walter Scott as the title, and theme, for a pseudo-ballad poem. He invented a legend in which the lady of Smailholm Tower, near Kelso, keeps vigil by the midnight fires three nights in a row (see above) and is visited by her lover; but when her husband returns from battle, she learns he slew that lover on the first night, and she has been entertained by a very physical ghost.

    In the United States, Midsummer celebrations are largely derived from the cultures of immigrants who arrived from various European nations since the 19th century. Naturally, the US is vast, and there are many different customs which take place there on an annual basis. As the state of Alaska, northernmost state in the nation, straddles the Arctic Circle, midsummer is a time when most of the state is in daylight or civil twilight the entire day. The Midnight Sun Game is an annual tradition in the city of Fairbanks, in which a regulation game of baseball is played at 10:30 p.m. local time, through the midnight hour, with no artificial lighting. Tucson has announced its inaugural Earthwalk Solstice celebration, with sister events in San Francisco, and other communities around the world. The event features a walk through a giant labyrinth, musicians, healers, ceremony, etc. Since 1974, Santa Barbara has hosted an annual Summer Solstice celebration, typically on the weekend of or the weekend after the actual solstice. It includes a festival and parade. Geneva, Illinois hosts a Swedish Day (Swedish: Svenskarnas Dag) festival on the third Sunday of June. The event, featuring maypole-raising, dancing, and presentation of an authentic Viking ship, dates back to 1911. The Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival has been a tradition on the North Coast of Oregon for over forty years. The Festival takes place typically on the 3rd full weekend of June. The festival embodies the rich cultural heritage that was transplanted to the Astoria, Oregon region by emigrating Scandinavians. In the Pacific Northwest they found the same bounteous seas and forests as in their native lands and the demand for their skills at managing them. The NYC Swedish Midsummer celebrations in Battery Park, New York City, attracts some 3,000–5,000 people annually, which makes it one of the largest celebrations after the ones held in Leksand and at the Skansen Park in Stockholm. Sweden Day, a Midsummer celebration which also honors Swedish heritage and history, has been held annually on the sound in Throgs Neck in New York City since 1941. Swedish Midsummer is also celebrated in other places with large Swedish and Scandinavian populations, such as Rockford, Illinois, Chicago, Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Lindsborg, Kansas. The Swedish "language village" (summer camp) Sjölunden, run by Concordia College in Minnesota, also celebrates Midsummer. The Seattle neighborhood of Fremont puts on a large Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant, which for many years has controversially included painted naked cyclists. In St. Edwards Park in Kenmore, the Skandia Folkdance Society hosts Midsommarfest, which includes a Scandinavian solstice pole. A solstitial celebration is held on Casper Mountain at Crimson Dawn park, Wyoming. Crimson Dawn is known in the area for the great stories of mythical creatures and people that live on Casper Mountain. The celebration is attended by many people from the community, and from around the country. A large bonfire is held and all are invited to throw a handful of red soil into the fire in hopes that they get their wish granted.
    Celebrations in pictures:

    Sweden:



    Norway:



    Demark:



    Iceland:



    Germany:



    Austria:



    Great Britain:



    USA:



    Some sources:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midsummer
    https://theculturetrip.com/europe/ar...und-the-world/
    https://www.nordicvisitor.com/blog/c...n-the-nordics/

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    Midsummer lunch is traditional:






    I only eat sausages at midsummer evening/night.


    Sauna absolutely belongs to Midsummer evening. The ancient smoke sauna is the best.


    There is no real Midsummer sauna without your own hand made bath whisk!


    After hot sauna? Directly jump into cold lake.


    Some people goes to huge rock festivals (even if violences and rapes have become more more common):


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