June 23rd is known as Midsummer’s Eve, or St. John’ s Eve. The feast of St. John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24, six months before Christmas, to coincide with Midsummer (according to the Gospel of Luke, John the Baptist was born six months before his cousin, Jesus, which is why this is a fixed date on the 24th). Many of the traditional festivities associated with St. John’s feast day were held the night before, on June 23, or St. John’s Eve.
A Time For Mead
Mid-June was also the time when honey was allowed to ferment to make mead, a wine-like beverage. As one legend has it, a bride’s father would give the groom all the mead he wanted after the wedding, and the term “honeymoon” was used coined. Thus many of our ancestors also referred to June’s full Moon as the “Mead Moon.”
An Old Swedish Proverb
An old Swedish proverb says, “Midsummer Night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.” This is because after the Midsummer celebrations in June, where many Swedes celebrate, many babies are born in March.
The dew of Midsummer was believed to have special healing powers. In Mexico, people decorate wells and fountains with flowers, candles, and paper garlands. They go out at midnight and bathe in the lakes and streams. In Ireland, many people celebrate by holding bonfires.
Midsummer’s Eve is Herb Evening
Midsummer’s Eve is also known as Herb Evening. Legend says that this is the best night for gathering magical herbs. Supposedly, a special plant flowers only on this night, and the person who picks it can understand the language of the trees. Other Swedish legends and traditions include placing flowers were under your pillow before bed, which will cause you to dream about the one you will marry.