Midsummer Bonfire, 1879
Summer Solstice & Midnight Sun Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"This is very midsummer madness."
~Twelfth Night, or What You Will, William Shakespeare (1595-96)
Traditionally celebrated with bonfires and dancing, the summer solstice has long been associated with magical and unusual occurrences -a liminal time during which mortals may be able to glimpse and interact with the fairy or spirit world. But almost always at a price. Shakespeare associated Midsummer with witchcraft or fairies in at least three of his plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest all contain references to magic on the night of the summer solstice! Take suitable precautions as despite their modern reputation, fairies almost always are bent on mischief, or worse!
Happy Summer Solstice!
Today marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year.
Though midsummer celebrations are also historically associated with St. John's Eve, June 23rd, the actual solstice (longest day of the year) occurs around June 20 or 21st. Traditionally celebrated with bonfires, the solstice has long been associate with times of strange and unusual occurrences.
Midsummer is supposed to be one of the special times in the year in which mortals might be able to glimpse and interact with the fae, the fairy world. But this is almost always at a price.
William Shakespeare associated Midsummer with witchcraft and fairy mischief in at least three of his plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, and The Tempest all contain references to magic on the night of the summer solstice.
Whether your summer celebrations and revels fall on the solstice or a little later on St. John's Eve, you might want to protect yourself from mischievous fairy folk, just in case, by traditional methods such as carrying a bit of iron.
An iron nail in your pocket will prevent you from being carried away by the fairy folk. A pair of iron shears hung on the wall near a baby’s bed was said to prevent the child from being swapped for an ugly fairy baby, a changeling. Horseshoes were also traditionally nailed over doorposts as protection.
Many different plants and flowers also are said to be protection against fairy magic and mischief. Even oatmeal was said to be a fairy repellent, if you carried it in your pocket or sprinkled it on your clothes.
Happy Summer Solstice!
And for more on midsummer traditions from the Highlands and Scottish Isles, click the 1882 engraving of dancing on St. John's Eve.