fisk

Nothing says “Happy Midsummer” (Swedish Holiday) like a picture of the biggest badass in baseball history. Carlton Fisk.

A snipet about Midsummer (not written by me)

Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice. Midsummer-related holidays, traditions and celebrations, all of which, apart from the designation “St John’s Day”, are secular in origin, are particularly important in Finland and Sweden, but found also in other parts of Northern Europe, Great Britain and elsewhere. Midsummer is an important Neopagan holiday.

Solstitial celebrations still center upon June 24, which is no longer the longest day of the year. The difference between the Julian calendar year (365.2500 days) and the tropical year (365.2422 days) continue to move the day associated with the actual astronomical solstice forward approximately one day in approximately every seven centuries.

In the 7th century, Saint Eligius (died 659/60) warned the recently-Christianized inhabitants of Flanders against these pagan solstitial celebrations. According to the Vita by his companion Ouen, he would say:

“No Christian on the feast of Saint John or the solemnity of any other saint performs solestitia [summer solstice rites] or dancing or leaping or diabolical chants.”

Indeed, as Saint Eligius demonstrates, Midsummer has been Christianized as the feast of Saint John the Baptist: notably, unlike all other saints’ days, this feast is celebrated on his birthday and not on the day of his martyrdom, which is separately observed as the “Decollation of John the Baptist” on August 29. The day of Saint John the Baptist is not marked by Christian churches with the emphasis one might otherwise expect of such an important saint.

The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. People believed that at midsummer plants had miraculous and healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other evil powers.

The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the pre-Christian beginning of the day, which falls on the previous eve. Midsummer’s Eve is in Sweden and Finland considered the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.