The celebration of Midsummer's Eve has been linked to the summer solstice since ancient times. The solstice falls on June 21; Midsummerís Eve on June 24; and the Feast of St. John is observed during this time as well. Some hold the belief that Elizabeth, Johnís mother, built a large bonfire to notify her cousin, Mary, of the birth of her child, that she might come to share in her joy. Since many customs of midsummer festivals blend with aspects of St. Johnís life, the two festivals have become interwoven in many regions of the world.
While wind and air are the themes and symbols of Whitsun, the Summer Solstice and the Feast of St. John share the theme and symbol of the sunóthe element of fire. In the language of the young child, King Sun is sitting highest on his throne at this time. It is wonderful to weave stories and songs, plays and verses filled with images of the sun and the fairy-folk, flowers and garland-making, animals and insects, all thriving in the ripeness of the seasonís harvest.
The words to this round express the essence of the St. Johnís feastóconnecting to the wisdom of the spirit through light. The bonfires at Midsummer and the Feast of St. John represent this connection and allow us to truly feel the warmth and power from above and within. Let the children feel their strength and fire.
Families and communities might gather for bonfires at both Midsummer and St. Johnís. These flames symbolize the power of the spirit to transform the past and Ďburn upí the old and unwanted elements of our nature.
You may want to participate in this wonderful old tradition if it is legal in your community and light an outdoor fire in an appropriate place. Proceed with due caution, of course, and make sure your fire will not be a hazard. There is something truly magical about a fire at night in midsummer. Let everyone participate in gathering the kindling, branches, and logs. Watch the expression of awe and amazement on the childrenís faces as the flames leap and jump. Feel the peace, calm, and serenity that settles in as you tell stories and share nourishment together around a fire. Return home with fresh-strung garlands and glowing images that will nurture your dreams.
2. Build, build fires that leap and flicker,
Bright fires crowing lofty mountains.
Light, light radiance for all people
Life, warmth, for all living things
3. Jump, jump! High above the firelight
High, high, higher than the sunset
Jump, jump, grain will grow and ripen,
High, high, high as you can rise.
On Midsummer night, children can put little cakes or hand made gifts out for the fairies. Help them chose a lovely spot in the garden or woods where they feel the fairies especially like to come. The children wake in the morning to find their gifts are gone and in their place is a special treasure for them from the fairies such as a crystal or tiny fairy doll.
I Am the Sun
I am the Sun -
And I bear with my might
The earth by day, the earth by night.
I hold her fast, and my gifts I bestow
To everything on her, so that it may grow:
Man and stone, flower and bee
All receive their light from me.
Open thy heart like a little flower,
That with my light I may thee dower:
Open thy heart, dear child, to me,
That we together one light may be.