As I write these words, it is the 19th of June, 2013. In two days, June 21st, it is Summer Solstice and the official beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. For the folks in the southern hemisphere, it is their Winter Solstice. Here in the USA, many people feel that Memorial Day Weekend (end of May) if the unofficial beginning of Summer. I believe that that feeling may be unconsciously justified or arrived at as many folks drag out their grills from a shelter and BBQ for the first time in the current year. Well, here in Gulf Coast Texas, we have just two seasons: February and Summer - we BBQ throughout the year. But Summer Solstice is not without its ancient celebrations.
The ancient heathen/pagan cultures of Europe and for that matter, other ancient cultures celebrated the Solstices. Summer Solstice marked the longest day of the year (it still is) from which point onward the days grew shorter and then the sun "dies," only to be reborn during the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year). And Summer Solstice celebrations were known to run from at least 6/20 - 6/26. The holiday, which it truly was, was marked by feasting, excessive drinking, dancing, and singing. But that just the beginning.
Bonfires were set ablaze to scare away dragons (early Christian period). It was believed that during Summer Solstice dragons poisoned fresh drinking water. Also, a wheel shaped object made of combustible materials was set on fire and rolled DOWNHILL. The fire wheel and its downhill trajectory symbolized the dying sun. And Summer Solstice - Midsummer, was thought to be a time when magic was at its peak.
People believed that the picking of certain herbs at this time of year brought not only good luck but also good health. Also, it was believed that if a young girl placed certain flowers and herbs beneath her pillow, through dreams, she would she her future husband. And of course, fertility was involved. People thought that babies conceived during Midsummer would be very healthy and lucky. But what is really in a calendar date? Does the date of something matter? Well, that depends on who you are.
Ancient cultures, especially the old European cultures, celebrated Midsummer on the date based on the old Roman calendar, June 24th. Remember, as humanity evolved, so did our calendar and the way we mark time. Christianity, with its overreaching conversion/subjugation found another heathen/pagan holiday to use to its advantage.
The old Midsummer holiday celebrated June 24th, became the birthday of John the Baptist. Christian doctrinists declared that based on scripture, the Baptist's birth date was June 24th because he was born six month before the supposed birth of Jesus. However, the Bible does not give a date for the supposed birth of Jesus. And it provides absolutely no linkage to Jesus and all the finery to be had during Yuletide. With little effort, a person can discover that it was the Christian doctrinists who made December 25th as the birth date of Jesus. We really need to thank those old heathen/pagans for all of our good times. Have an awesome Midsummer!
Copyright @2013 Terry Unger