Friday, June 21, 2013

Happy Midsummer

Also known as: Litha  
Celebrated: Worldwide in the Northern Hemisphere

Today, June 21, is the longest day of the year. Throughout much of Europe the celebrations are combined with the feast of St. John the Baptist on June 24, but that's a different holiday with a different purpose, and deserves a post of its own.

I've always wondered why they call this Midsummer. The calendar says it's the beginning of summer, and the middle of the season falls at the end of July/beginning of August (another holiday on the Celtic calendar, but that too will get its own post in time). Calling this Midsummer harks back to the days before we lived our lives by the paper calendar, and divided the seasons into two instead of four.

Today is as sunny as things will get, up here at the 44th parallel. It's a beautiful day with temperatures in the high 70s, not too humid, exactly what the Maine Office of Tourism wants you to believe a Maine summer is like. The whole summer isn't like this, but enough of it is that it reminds us all of why we live up here. We celebrate with a river festival that began on Wednesday and will run through the 4th of July, with parades and fireworks and live music and art fairs. It's also strawberry season, for about the same stretch of time, and once again I will set out to discover exactly how many I can eat before I break out in hives (somewhere between one and two pints, depending on external factors I'm still investigating).

It's precious because it's all so short. By mid-August we'll be noticing how much shorter the days are up here, and the fleece will probably be out again by Labor Day.

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