Midsummer St. John's Day

Midsummer, also known as St John's Day, or Litha, is the period of time centred upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. The Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John's Day begins the evening before, known as St John's Eve.

European midsummer-related holidays, traditions, and celebrations are pre-Christian in origin. They are particularly important in geographic Northern Europe – Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer day, June 24, is a public holiday.

The celebration of Midsummer's Eve (St. John's Eve among Christians) was from ancient times a festival of the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.

In Sweden, Finland, Latvia and Estonia, Midsummer's Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve.

Needless to say Midsummer is becoming a bigger event in United Kingdom too mainly in Wales. Penzance is the place to see the ancient Celtic midsummer celebrations for Golowan, which run from Friday until 29 June. Traditions have been revived since the 1990s and kick off with an appearance by Penglaz the Penzance ‘Obby ‘Oss, followed by bonfires and fireworks, as well as cultural events. It all builds up to Mazey Day on 28 June, with mock mayoral elections and a colourful parade.

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