Welcoming Summer

Christina here. So apparently summer has arrived in the northern hemisphere even if it doesn’t really feel like it much! Last week was May Day which is supposedly the beginning of summer, and it has been celebrated in various ways since ancient times. Most of us don’t bother to mark it these days, but in the past it was important as it heralded the warmer months to come.

One of the earliest known celebrations was Floralia, the Roman festival of Flora, goddess of flowers, spring and fertility. This took place during the last days of April and the first of May and included the Ludi Florae, the special “Games of Flora” that lasted for days.

Floralia – Hobbe Smith 1898

The festival was all about pleasure-seeking and was plebeian, rather than patrician as most other festivals were (even prostitutes took part). There were various spectacles like theatrical performances and other entertainments and it all sounds like great fun! (If you want to know more about Roman spring celebrations, check out this post on Alison Morton’s blog.)

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Midsummer Celebrations

Midsommarstång Markus Bernet  CC BY-SA 2.5 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa2.5  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Markus Bernet

Christina here. In a few days it will be midsummer and as I’m going to be in Sweden then, I’ll be celebrating more than usual. Nordic summer nights are special and there’s nothing more special than midsummer – it’s a big deal in Sweden and should preferably be experienced in the countryside somewhere. People head out of the towns en masse in order to enjoy nature. Maybe because of the long, cold dark nights they have to put up with for half the year, they appreciate the light warm evenings of summer all the more. Summer is short, so this time is precious, and especially the longest night of the year.

This year summer solstice falls on Tuesday 21st June but here it's not always celebrated on the correct date. The Swedes have decided to always have Midsummer Eve on a Friday, so it can be any day between 19th and 25th June. But the sentiment is the same.

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