View Poll Results: How will you celebrate the Summer Solstice this year?

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Thread: Midsummer

  1. #51
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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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  3. #52
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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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  5. #53
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    Smile Happy Midsummer














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  7. #54
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    Happy Midsummer!



    Vi skal ikkje sova bort sumarnatta, ho er for ljos til det.
    Då skal vi vandra isaman ute, : under dei lauvtunge tre :

    Då skal vi vandra isaman ute, der blomar igraset står.
    Vi skal ikkje sova bort sumarnatta, : som kruser med dogg vårt hår :

    Vi skal ikkje sova frå høysåteangen og grashoppespelet i eng,
    men vandra i lag under bleikblå himlen : til fuglane lyfter veng :

    Og kjenna at vi er i slekt med jorda, med vinden og kvite sky,
    og vita at vi skal vera isaman : like til morgongry :




    English translation:

    We should not sleep away the summer night, it is too light for that.
    Then we shall wander together in the open under the trees that are heavy under their leaves

    Then we shall wander together in the open where flowers in the grass are standing
    We shall not sleep away the summer night which with dew our hair does fuss

    We shall not sleep away from the smell of hay and the singing of the grasshoppers in the fields
    but wander together under the pale blue sky till the birds lift their wings

    And feel that we are of the same kin as the earth with the wind and the white clouds,
    and know that we shall be together all the time till dawn
    A nation is an organic thing, historically defined.
    A wave of passionate energy which unites past, present and future generations

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    Happy Summer Solstice

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  11. #56
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    Midsummer's Day falls on the 24th this year, which always confuses me as the Summer has only just begun!

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  13. #57
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    Glad midsommar!

    Pickled herring, excellent schnapps and dancing around a midsummer pole all the way!

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    Midsummer: Why do Swedes like to pretend they're little frogs?



    One of the most bizarre yet commonly observed Midsummer traditions in Sweden is the frog dance around the maypole. The dance, which everyone living in Sweden sees all ages do each summer, has become a staple of Swedish culture.

    The song describes little frogs who are apparently amusing to look at, due to their lack of ears and tails, and is accompanied with dance moves to represent ears and tails. The song then mimics croaking and the dancers skip like frogs around the pole.

    Maybe you saw Swedish actor Peter Stormare sing the song to Tom Cruise in the American action movie Minority Report, made by Steven Spielberg in 2002. Or maybe you have seen Swedish celebrities demonstrate the dance, such as Alicia Vikander in the clip below. Maybe you’ve simply been bewildered when the frog dance broke out at a Swedish Midsummer party.

    Here’s how the song goes:

    Små Grodorna lyrics

    Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.

    Little frogs, little frogs, are funny to look at.

    Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.

    Little frogs, little frogs, are funny to look at.

    Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

    No ears, no ears, no tails have they.

    Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.

    No ears, no ears, no tails have they.

    Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,

    kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

    Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,

    kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

    Where does it come from?

    Despite being a pinnacle in Swedish culture, the song actually originates from France.

    It borrows from the French military march La Chanson de l’Oignon (The Song of the Onion), which was sung by the Napoleon army. The onion was an important source of food for the French army, and the chorus, used for croaking in the Swedish version, goes “Au pas, camarade, au pas, camarade, au pas, au pas, au pas” (In step, comrade) in the French original.

    As for how frogs became involved in the song, it is commonly believed to be due to a parody version sung by the English, who at the time were bitter enemies of France. The English referred disparagingly to the French as “frogs” or “frog-eaters” and rewrote the lyrics to “Au pas, grenouille” (In step, frog).

    How this song made its way into Swedish traditions is not known, but the first recorded instance of the “Little Frogs” was in woodwork and culture classes given at Nääs castle in the end of the 1800s. These courses were given to teachers where they could learn songs and traditions to pass onto school children.

    The song is also sung in Norway as “Små Rumpetroll” and in Denmark as “Små Frøer”. But it is relatively young in terms of Swedish children’s ballads. Some the other Midsummer classics, such as “Räven Raskar Över Isen” (The Fox Hurries Across the Ice) can be traced back to the middle ages, according to Mats Nilsson, professor of ethnology at Gothenburg University.

    Thelocal.se

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    The seven bizarre traditions that make up Swedish Midsummer



    Midsummer is one of the oldest and most widely celebrated holidays of the year in Sweden, but to the uninitiated, some of the festivities can seem a little bit... odd.

    In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic means that large gatherings are not advised, with authorities asking people to celebrate only with their closest friends and family, keep a distance from people from other households, and of course keep following good hand hygiene.

    While it may look different this year, here’s a look at the usual ingredients of a Swedish Midsummer, and how they became traditions.

    1. The Midsummer maypole (Midsommarstången)

    At the centre of the traditional celebrations is the maypole, in Swedish called the Midsommarstången. And if you were thinking there’s something rather phallic about a tall pole with two large hoops at the top, that’s sort of the point — many people believe it originated as a symbol of fertility.

    Others say the shape has its roots in Norse mythology, and that it represents an axis linking the underworld, earth, and heavens. Whichever story you choose to believe, there’s no denying it’s a little strange to have a festival that boils down to erecting a large pole and dancing around it…



    2. The frog dance

    Ah yes, the dancing. The peak of the festivities sees the Swedes imitate frogs, hopping around the maypole while singing the classic tune ‘Små grodorna’ (The small frogs), which describes frogs in (biologically incorrect) detail.

    An excerpt from the lyrics: “The small frogs, the small frogs, are funny to look at. No tails, no tails, they have no tails. No ears, no ears, they have no ears.”

    3. All the herring

    Herring is a fixture of most Swedish celebrations, and Midsummer is no exception. The Swedes eat tonnes of the stuff, in all its forms: pickled, smoked, fermented, served with onions, served with dill… there’s a lot of fish.

    4. Weather chat

    Small talk might not exactly be a big thing in Sweden, but Swedes do tend to talk about the weather a lot. This is turned up a notch as the three-day Midsummer weekend approaches and the entire country and media keep their fingers crossed for sunshine… but invariably end up with rain, and occasionally even snow. At this point, the disappointing weather, and the chance to moan about it, is all part of the fun.

    5. The drinking songs

    If you were wondering what leads the generally reserved Swedes to spend their Midsummer dancing like frogs around a maypole, it may not come as a surprise that alcohol is involved — a lot of it. Along with Christmas, Midsummer is one of the biggest drinking days in Sweden. Watch out for flavoured snaps, which are far stronger than you might guess.

    And note that it helps to plan ahead: since alcohol can only be bought at the state-run monopoly which closes its stores on public holidays, the shops get very busy in the days before and may even run low on the most popular beverages.

    All this day-drinking comes hand in hand with drinking songs. One of the most common tunes you’ll hear is Helan Går (‘The whole thing goes’, referring to the drink). A loose translation of some of the lyrics would be “Chug it down, Sing ‘hup-de-la-la-la-loo-lah-lay’, chug it down, Sing ‘hup-de-la-la-lah-lay, And he who doesn’t chug it down, then he won’t get the other half either”.

    6. The flowers



    You’ll see people wearing a flower wreath in their hair, regardless of age and gender. Flowers are also used to dress up the maypole.

    According to Swedish tradition, you should also pick seven kinds of flowers (in some parts of Sweden it’s nine flowers) and put them underneath your pillow. Then you’ll dream about your future husband or wife.

    Swedes also believe that flowers can help them in their love lives. This isn’t just because the garlands will attract potential partners, but rather tradition states that if a Midsummer reveller collects seven different species of flower from seven different spots, then puts the bouquet under their pillow, they will dream of their future spouse that night.

    7. Strawberry watch

    Strawberries are another fixture on the Midsummer menu. But for traditionalists, they absolutely have to be Swedish. This results in months of press coverage about the state of the strawberry harvest — will they be ripe in time for Midsummer? Will the harvest be bigger or smaller than usual? Swedes are fiercely proud of their rather tiny but super sweet variety of strawberries.

    Thelocal.se

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