By in Holidays

The Irony of Midsummer

How could the same day be both midsummer and the beginning of summer? I puzzled on that when I was younger. I remember reading a piece in Seventeen magazine on how you could throw a Midsummer Night's Dream themed party, complete with fairies and a Maypole, and all sorts of other fun. I thrilled to the thought of hosting such a party and yet I puzzled, wasn't a Maypole for celebrations in May?

I found my answers years later, in the differences of the agricultural calendar from one place to another. Scandinavian festivities featured a Maypole later in the year because the growing season starts later there than in England.

And why Midsummer when we see the season as just beginning now? Because the agricultural season is half over already, and we are close to harvest for many of the plants our ancestors depended on for food. It's only weeks before we begin to see fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini in the markets. And by now some things like lettuces and other greens are ready for the picking. Berries will soon be ripe. The sun has reached its highest point. We celebrate the longest day of the year.

From now on, everything is about decline. It is the paradox of the universe. Every triumph is really the beginning of defeat.

When the sun sets today you may be looking forward to the warm days ahead, to boating and swimming, to laying out on the beach or puttering around in the garden. But the earth is already beginning to wind down towards fall.

Each thing contains in itself the seed of its polar opposite.

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Image credit : Bonfire photo by Hans Braxmeier/Pixabay (public domain, CC0 1.0 )

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Anja wrote on June 21, 2014, 1:10 PM

I don't start counting minutes of daylight lost until about October. Then I get obsessive about it until December 21 at which time I obsessively count days till spring. But it 's funny that all summer days seemed endless to me when I was a kid. Now, the summertime seems much shorter.

JanetHunt wrote on June 21, 2014, 1:45 PM

Very interesting! True, after today, all the days will be shorter! lovely post! :)

Ruby3881 wrote on June 21, 2014, 2:11 PM

I don't usually notice the fading of the daylight. It just surprises me all of a sudden one day, sometime in the fall. What I tend to notice is the days getting longer, round about early February. And then I start counting days until the winter will at least feel like it's over.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 21, 2014, 2:13 PM

It's a sad thought, especially for those of us who have had a dreary spring....

LadyDuck wrote on June 22, 2014, 1:58 AM

I learned about Swedish midsummer celebration because a famous Swedish furniture maker arrange midsummer celebration in their restaurants through the Switzerland. I usually go, this year I had some important things to do and I had to skip.

Platespinner wrote on June 22, 2014, 12:07 PM

Living in Alabama for 20 years, the first official day of summer meant that there was no potential releif from the heat until after Labour Day. Fortunately I've moved farther north and summer is no longer a season to be dreaded.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 22, 2014, 12:25 PM

I don't usually shop there, so maybe they're holding those same festivities in Canada and I just don't know it! I'd love to hear more about what they do at these celebrations :)

Ruby3881 wrote on June 22, 2014, 12:48 PM

We had a similar situation in Montreal, where they say there are only two seasons: winter and July. The July/August period is not only hot, but exceedingly humid. The temperature never drops much at night, so it used to be our only relief was a good thunderstorm that would get rid of some excess humidity and cool things off for a day or so. But that was before global climate change.

Our last few years in the city, the storms lasted a few minutes at best. All they would do is pour more humidity into the air. Summer was unbearable without air conditioning. I'm happy that we've moved to a region where the humidity is a lot lower, and the mercury drops significantly after the sun goes down. We're much more comfortable during the summer months now :D

poddys wrote on June 23, 2014, 8:50 AM

Well this weekend was certainly lovely in the south of England. We fired up the grill on Saturday and managed to sit out on the deck both days to enjoy the sunshine.

Ruby3881 wrote on June 23, 2014, 8:56 PM

Glad to hear it Tony! We're grilling with my neighbour tonight, and this marks our first BBQ of the season. The warm weather does seem to have finally set in :)

k_mccormick2 wrote on July 2, 2014, 2:10 AM

I look forward to summer and all the things it offers. Harvesting crops is just one of the many things that I love about summer. I would love to plan a midsummer's dream party but oh man I am not sure that my wallet and my brain is going to be able to keep up with that one :)

Ruby3881 wrote on August 1, 2014, 1:42 AM

I hear you! I don't think I'm up to planning anything big for Lammas (this week) either....