The night between the 20th and the 21st of June is the Summer Solstice, the shortest night of the year, the longest day when the sun seems to stop still in the sky. (Sol stat)
In ancient times this was called Litha or MidSummer.
It is the time when Nature's beauty is at its peak. Gardens and fields are full of flowers and the trees are laden with ripening fruit.
In Celtic traditions great fires were lit and there was music and dancing. The festivities lasted all night with tambourines and ritual dances.
Animals were blessed by taking them between the fires. The higher the flames danced and the richer the harvest would be. The ashes were saved to bless the fields or to use to ward away the evil eye and bring prosperity and fortune.
Litha was also the time when the wisewomen would gather the medicinal herbs to use throughout the year. Verbena, sage, rosemary and thyme were among those gathered in the early morning when the dew was still on the ground.
The verbena was once woven into garlands, then dried and hung to protect the house.
There are still some places in Italy where festivals are held and fires are are lit, but here in the village they no longer celebrate. I'll be thinking of all my friends around the world who still celebrate Midsummer!
This photo was taken on Midsummer's night a few years ago. To me it evokes all the beauty of the Summer Solstice.
Now I'll go and find my copy of William Shakespeare's " A Midsummers Night's Dream" !
Seems a suitable book to read this evening!