Midsummer and Summer Solstice

21 Jun

So as you are probably aware that today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere.  Up to this point the days have been getting longer and we have been getting our long summer nights that we love about England so much (maybe not this year), after the summer solstice the days start getting shorter, you might not notice it but they do.

You might also think that it is also Midsummers Day, but there you would be wrong, in actual fact Midsummers Day is celebrated a few days after the solstice on the 24th June.  Midsummer is celebrated all around the world but varies between countries on which day they celebrate, it can be between 21 and 25 June. Predominantly it involves feasting, dancing and some good old parties!! Definitely what we like to hear at Purple Grape!

In some countries, like Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia it is the greatest celebration of the year next to Christmas.  There are so many different celebrations of Midsummer all over the world that I could write about, but then we’d be here all day and we wouldn’t get any work done! So instead I’m just going to concentrate on sunny old England.

Long ago the solstice was used to help people manage their calendars and what they had to do during the year, like planting and harvesting their crops.  There were also big bonfires built to protect against evil spirits, and some people believed that golden-flowered mid-summer plants contained incredible healing powers, so they used to pick them on this night when they thought they were at their strongest.

The summer solstice is also connected with one of our great landmarks, Stonehenge; some people believe it was built to establish when the summer solstice occurred.  Apparently ( I haven’t seen it with my own eyes), there is a particular point where the sun rises on the horizon that can be seen through the centre of the stone circle on the day of the summer solstice.  Stonehenge has always been a place of worship and celebration during this time, there are various groups and individuals that have their own forms of ceremony and celebration involving this prehistoric site. This still happens to this day, and English Heritage have open access allowances for these groups as long as they are respectful of the site and others wanting to perform their own worship.

Midsummer has always been a really popular time for weddings as well.  There are lots of lovely fresh fruit and vegetables coming into season so there was a lovely bounty for the wedding feast.  This is still the same today, there is nothing better than a beautiful summer wedding with a glorious feast for the wedding breakfast. I hope you or your friends and family have got some lovely celebrating to do over this period this weekend.  Purple Grape are running and catering for Kurtis and Serene’s beautiful wedding this Saturday.  We are really looking forward to it and are keeping our fingers crossed for some beautiful midsummer weather!