Midsummer is the period of time in the middle of the summer. The exact dates vary among different cultures, but is primarily held close to the summer solstice.
- In Austria: the Midsummer solstice is celebrated each year with a procession of ships down the Danube River as it flows through the wine-growing Wachau Valley 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.
- In Brazil: Portuguese St. John’s Day, brought to Brazil during colonial times, has become a popular event that is celebrated during a period that starts one week before St. Anthony’s Day (June 12) and ends after St. Peter’s Day (June 29). This nationwide festival, called “Festa Junina” (June Festival), or São João, takes place during midwinter in most of the country.
Rural life is celebrated through typical clothing, food, and dance (particularly square dancing, or quadrilha). The quadrilha features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction of the dancing. A kind of maypole (called “pau-de-sebo”) is also raised and used in some festivities. A typical hot drink is prepared called “quentão” (very hot) that consists of a mix of fruits and spices laced with cachaça. On St. John’s Day eve celebration, sometimes a ritual takes place of walking barefoot at midnight on live-coal made of the remnants of the main bonfire, which is a traditional part of the party. It’s believed that the one who walks is strong in faith, they shall not be hurt.
- In Bulgaria: On Midsummer day, Bulgarians celebrate Enyovden. On the same day, the Eastern Orthodox church celebrates the day of John the Baptist and the rites and traditions of both holidays are often mixed. A fire-related ritual may also be performed in Bulgaria on that day; it involves barefoot dance on smouldering embers and is called Nestinarstvo. Bulgarian folklore states the beginning of summer is on Enyovden. It is thought that in the morning of Enyovden, when the sun rises, it “winks’ and “plays”. Anyone seeing the sunrise will be healthy throughout the year. It is believed that on Enyovden a variety of herbs have the greatest healing power, and that this is especially true at sunrise. Therefore, they have to be picked early in the morning before dawn. Women – sorceresses and enchantresses – go to gather herbs by themselves to cure and make charms. The herbs gathered for the winter must be 77 and a half – for all diseases and for the nameless disease.
- In Croatia: The tradition of Sveti Ivan Krstitelj (St.John Baptist), also called Ivanjdan or Svitnjak in Western Herzegovina and coastal Croatia, is celebrated on June 23 in Croatia. People light large bonfires in the name of Saint John Baptist, and the celebration can also be connected to the old Slavic traditions for Kresnik (South Slavic version of Perun) the god of Sun. There are places in Croatia like Ričice where saint St. John Baptist is the patron and their tradition is different. The village folk and especially children bring firewood to a designated place, and then a bonfire is lit at sunset. After the bonfire burns out, the children jump, walk or run on the embers of the bonfire because it is believed their feet won’t hurt if they do that. The tradition everywhere else in Croatia is pretty similar, but mostly the bonfires are lit but the walking on embers is not done anymore.
- 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.
Bonfires on the beach, speeches, picnics and songs are traditional, although they 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.) Bonfires are lit in order to repel witches and other evil spirits, with the burnings sending 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.
In Scandinavia, young people visited holy springs as a reminder of how John the Baptist baptised Christ in the River Jordan.
- In Finland: In the Finnish midsummer celebration, bonfires (Finnish kokko) are very common and are burned at lakesides and by the sea. Branches from birch trees (koivu) are often placed on both side of the front door to welcome visitors. Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a midsummer or maypole (Swedish midsommarstång, majstång).
In folk magic, midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Will-o’-the-wisps were believed to appear at midsummer night, particularly to finders of the mythical “fern in bloom” and possessors of the “fern seed”, marking a treasure. In the old days, maidens would use special charms and bend over a well, naked, in order to see their future husband’s reflection. In another tradition that continues still today, an unmarried woman collects seven different flowers and places them under her pillow to dream of her future husband.
An important feature of the midsummer in Finland is the white night and the midnight sun. Because of Finland’s location around the Arctic Circle the nights near the midsummer day are short (with twilight even at midnight) or non-existent.
- In Greece: According to Eastern Orthodox tradition the eve of the day of the Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated with festivals in many towns and villages, both in the mainland and in the Greek isles. Traditionally the midsummer celebration is called Klidonas (Κλήδονας) meaning sign or oracle, and was considered a time when unmarried girls would discover their potential mates through a ritual. It is also customary to this day to burn the Mayday wreaths that are used to decorate the doors of the houses for the previous two months, in large communal bonfires, accompanied by music, dancing and jumping over the flames. It takes place on May 30 and May 31.
- In Hungary: On June 21 Hungarians celebrate “Saint Ivan’s Night” (Szentiván-éj) (Iván being derived from the Slavic form of Johannes/John, Ivan, which may correspond to Hungarian Jovános, Ivános, Iván). The whole month of June was once called the Month of St. Ivan until the 19th century. Setting fires is a folklore tradition this night. Girls jumped over it, while boys watched the spectacle.
Most significant among the customs of the summer is lighting the fire of Midsummer Night (szentiváni tűzgyújtás) on the day of St. John (June 24), when the sun follows the highest course, when the nights are the shortest and the days the longest. The most important episode of the custom is the lighting of the fire.
People jumped over the fire after they lit it. The purpose of jumping over the fire is partly to purify, partly because they believed that those whose jump was very successful would get married during the following carnival.
sources (article; video): Wikipedia; Midsummer in Sweden; Visit Sweden, Youtube
A videó megnézése után válaszoljatok a következő kérdésekre a hallottak alapján.
- What do Swedish women dance and hop around as part of the midsummer experience?
- What is the name of this funny dance?
- What are the typical dishes eaten and served this time?
- What is ’snaps’?
- What are ’snapsvisors’ and when can they be heard?
- What are you advised to do if you still hunt for love and why?
keys/megoldások: 1. Maypole; 2. frogs dance; 3. pickled herring, buttery new potatoes with dill cured salmon, strawberries and cream; 4. flavoured aquavit/vodka; 5. drinking songs, before they drink snaps; 6. pick seven flowers and place them under your pillow after the day’s festivities have ended, folk law says you’ll then dream of your true love
|to light up||kivilágítani|
|to take place||megtörténni|
|laced||(itt!) vmivel ízesítve|
készített, magas alkoholtartalmú
(38-51% V/V) párlat,
Brazília nemzeti itala
|John the Baptist||Keresztelő Szent János|
|smouldering embers||izzó parázs|
|to make charms||varázslásokat végrehajtani|
|in accordance with||összhangban valamivel|
|fern in bloom||virágzó páfrány
(örök fiatalságot szimbolizálja)
|to bend over a well||kút fölé hajolni|
|correspond to||megfelelni valaminek|