Countdown to Midsummer Celebration – three days to go!
On Saturday June 24th, the Museum will be holding an event to celebrate Midsummer. In the next few blogs, we will tell you a little of what you can expect and preview a few of the things involved.
Above: our wishing well with some Midsummer decorations (more will be put on it nearer the date).
Water and wells at Midsummer
People make pilgrimages to holy wells at Midsummer to ask for cures and to make offerings of coins, pins or flowers.
Wells and springs represent the life force of Mother Earth: the womb of the earth. They are often sacred to the Goddess.
Some wells are thought to have guardian deities or spirits living in them and Midsummer is a good time to show them respect.
Midsummer is the time of the festival of Sul Minerva, the Goddess of the famous springs at Bath.
As the sun becomes more intense, water is of more vital importance and essential for the success of crops. It should not be forgotten on this day of celebrating the sun.
Figure to represent St John the Baptist
The birth of Jesus is celebrated at Christmas around the time of the Winter Solstice. The birth of St John the Baptist is celebrated around the time of the Summer Solstice. They can be said to represent the two sides of the year: the light and the dark.
Historically, St John the Baptist has sometimes been represented with horns, furry legs and cloven hooves.
He was known for wandering in the wilderness and has sometimes been shown as a wild man of the woods.
Jesus called John, “a burning and shining light” and Midsummer Fires are often called “St John’s Fires.”
In Russia, women would make a figure of St John from grass, herbs and branches and dip it in the river to help bring the rain to nourish the crops.
This figure (to the left of the wishing well above and made for the Museum by Gillian Nott) is inspired by this tradition and will be “dunked” in the stream outside the Museum on Saturday June 24th.