June 24th has always been an important date in our family. My mother and father were married on that day in 1933, and in Sweden, my father's homeland, it is Midsommar. Some of my earliest memories are of being in Sweden for Midsommar - I think it was 1948. Everyone was in costume, and they danced around what I would have called a May Pole with their colourful ribbons weaving in and out. The Swedes call this pole a "stang." (As in "Midsommar Stang.") Here in Glastonbury and as one walks through the countryside, one comes across with many men and not so many women carrying a staff that is called a "Stang." The Vikings were here!
There were other summers in the Swedish archipelago outside of Stockholm. "Kräftor" - we called them "crawfish" were eaten in prodigious amounts, and there were innumerable toasts with shot-glasses of Aquavite, a painful heart-burning delight.
Over the years, I have been at a number of Midsommar celebrations in Sweden. One of my most memorable ones was with my children when they were much younger. Here is Jordan (now in her thirties) in Sundsvall:
Jordan by a Midsommar Stang in Sundsvall, Sweden
Most Midsommar Stangs are taller than this one
St. John the Baptist
In addition to being marked by many as "Mid-Summer, June 24th is also St. John the Baptist Day. So why was the 24th of June - only two or three days after the Summer Solstice - chosen to mark his day in the Solar Year? "Sol-stice" means "Sun stands still." The date of the Summer Solstice can be determined to the nearest nano second by astronomers as that point in time when a line from the centre of the Earth to the Sun crosses the Tropic of Cancer. For seven days or so around that time, the Sun rose at the same point. But on the eighth day (read a couple of days after the Solstice), if you have been paying very close attention, you can see for the first time that the rising Sun has turned South. The days are getting shorter. The light is going away.
And, of course, John's role was to say that the Light was coming. Then at the opposite end of the year, on the 25th of December, again, if you have been paying close attention, you can see that the rising Sun has turned North. The Light has returned.
I thought I'd end this week's Tip with some shots I have taken around sunset on June 24th here in Glastonbury. I refer to the Glastonbury Festival that happens around this time every year in nearby Pilton. 175,000± people descend on a farm there.
Sunset from Gastonbury Tor 24 June - interesting lens artifact
Sunset over Chalice Hill
|Full Moon June 24th
The Tower was artificially lit up during the Glastonbury Festival
|Tor and Moon
Have you been looking at the stars and planets?
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