Posted by: christinelaennec | June 24, 2011

Midsummer Day

Last Summer's garden

I know we’ve just passed the Summer Solstice.  Here in Aberdeen it was such a dark, cold and wet affair that there was no point staying up to see the sun set at 11:30, as the Longest Day took place behind a grey curtain.   But today we have seen the sun at times, and it is Midsummer Day.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac says:

“Midsummer Day (June 24):  To the farmer, this day is the midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvest.  (Midsummer Eve is an occasion for festivity and celebrates fertility.)  The Anglican church considered it a ‘Quarter Day,’ one of the four major divisions of the liturgical year.  It also marks the feast day of St. John the Baptist.”

According to the Mysterious Britain and Ireland website, “St. John’s Eve was a time when fairies were thought to be abroad and at their most powerful (hence Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream).”  It was also the traditional time to gather the herb St. John’s Wort.

So if you do encounter any fairies this evening, I hope they are only pleasant and playful!



  1. Goodevening Christine, overhere it’s been wet and dull since the Summer started, but we have been promissed a nice Sunday…..
    Ps I’ll be looking for some lovely fairies xx

  2. Happy Midsummer Day! I love that your days last until 11:30! We are done at 9:30 here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe your long days make up for all of the dreariness, I hope. We are experiencing one of the wettest and dreariest Springs on record. Hopefully we will turn a corner soon. I do love that Midsummer’s Eve is the time for fairies. I have a large collection of fairy books and fairy art. But I have yet to see one! I know that your part of the world is famous for it’s fairy folklore. I wish you bright skies ahead! xx karen

  3. Hi Christine,

    It’s nice to hear about your customs and the origin of differant sayings. I can’t imagine sunset at 11.30pm! At the moment in Australia we are in the throes of winter, depending on which state one is in is temperate or freezing. We draw the curtains here when the sun sets around 6pm, short days, good for knitting and snuggling on the lounge!
    Have a lovely weekend,

  4. No fairies here. I sadly drew the curtains against the gloom at 10 pm. Like Monty Don, I find this turn of the year difficult, with the knowledge that the light is now decreasing. And because of overload at work I’ve seen very little of this spring. Still, there are bound to be lovely days ahead.

  5. Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is one of my favorites. We also have had wet weather although there is a promise of sun the next couple of days.

  6. Midsummer was cold, wet, and grey in Oxford too. But today, Sunday, the sun is bright.

  7. Today, in Oregon, it’s a warm (actually 80 degrees) sunny day. We’ll keep the windows open as long as there is a cool breeze which there is today.

    I always liked to draw fairies and I’m still drawn to buying coloring books about them for my grandchildren!

  8. I didn’t see any fairies either on that night her in N.Wales…it was also a grey night 😦

  9. Dear Christine,
    Jane Stevenson wrote a wonderful novel on midsummer fairies on Bennachie. I do hope that some publisher will come to their senses and make it available to everyone soon.

  10. Dear all,
    Thank you so much for your comments. I really love reading them!

    Erna – did you see any fairies?

    Karen – how interesting that you collect fairy folklore. I was once told a story about fairies seen in a particular garden in Aberdeen, at the beginning of the century. It was told me by an otherwise perfectly respectable older man, longtime resident of a well-to-do part of the city, and has always made me wonder! I’ve been hearing reports from my mother and sister about the damp spring in Oregon. You’ll have to watch out for the powdery mildew, my old friend here as well. We make the most of the long days here in summer, because you hardly see daylight around the Winter solstice – again, depending on the weather!

  11. Whoops, pressed the button too soon…

    Vicki – I have now looked up the official sunset time, which I see is 22:08 on the shortest day. What a terrible exaggerator I am! But I remember going to watch the sunset on a much brighter solstice, and seeing the beauty of it at 11:30 pm. Certainly I could read by the window, even with the rain, last night at 11 pm. So it must be a prolonged sunset!

    Linda – yes, there is a sadness when the year is on the turn- especially if you feel a bit cheated of the best of the long days. But as you say, there will be lovely days to come!

    ajb – I trust the sun has found you by now!

    Flora – I marvel at the BBC weather forecasts, which recently show a high of 8 for Aberdeen, and something like 32 for London!

    Knitsister – perhaps the fairies stayed inside to keep their wings dry…

    Clemence – do please let me know if they do!

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