Due to its nature of being influenced by the culture of pre-Christian, the Midsummer Day has been long regarded as a form of paganism in essence. It is basically a celebration held during the summer solstice when the day is longer than usual and the night is in its shortest span. Some prefer to hold the even on June 21st but this date is not quite accurate because it is not the longest day. Some others prefer holding it on June 24th, which was the date of the solstice according to classic Roman tradition.
Short Historical Background to the Midsummer Day
Midsummer Day, thanks to its longstanding background, was merely a moment when ancient people celebrated the natural occurrence of summer solstice, an astronomical event in which the earth tilts toward the sun, causing the day to become longer than average period and the night is then consequently cut into a lot shorter time.
Owing to the fact that the Midsummer Day is pagan in nature, once the Christianity had spread across Europe, it was then incorporated to the religion and was turned into an even commemorating John the Baptist’s birthday. That is why in some part of the Europe, the Midsummer also comes as Saint John’s Day. The date given to this event was determined to be June 24th, exactly one month prior to the nativity of Jesus Christ. This is in line with what is read in the Gospel of Luke 1: 26 and 1: 36, whereupon mentioned that Christ was born six months after John. This is of course a subject of questionable nature because the actual date of Christ’s and John’s birthday is nowhere to be found within the Bible.
What is the Midsummer Day’s Eve?
Contrary to what nowadays’ people seem to believe, the celebration was first not focused on the day itself. The event was centered upon the night prior to the summer solstice taking place. This is because in the past, pagans followed the lunar calendar. They calculated that a new day begins by the night so the celebration was observed during the night rather than the day.
Today, Midsummer Day is one of the most-celebrated events in some countries in Europe. This event’s popularity is only comparable to that of the Walpurgis Night, New Year’s Eve, and the Christmas Eve.
Superstitions Surrounding the Midsummer Day
The fact that Midsummer Day has its root way back to the ancient times has also lent many mythical stories following the celebration. People often pick up bright-colored flowers (especially yellow ones) on the night the event takes place. These flowers include St. John’s Wort or calendula, commonly considered plants whose healing energy is powerful.
Bonfire is also lit by the celebrators, basing the tradition on the ground that the fire from it may ward off evilness thought to abound during this Midsummer night. Some traditions even believed that the bonfire is also a means of expelling the dragons that turned up during the Eve, pouring poisons into the wells and springs. On a much darker tone of story, witches are also thought to have communed in this night, gathering with other beings with higher power.