Midsummer Spirits / Columns / The Foreigner

Midsummer Spirits. People in the Nordic Countries prepare bonfires to celebrate the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. What do the manmade blazes symbolise? Dating back to ancient times, bonfires were a means of protection for humans against evil spirits and witches who walked the earth when the Sun began its journey southwards. The bonfire provided protection against spirits, warded off darkness. It was a crucial part of celebration of the Sun’s turning – strengthening it, and helping sustain life.

midsummer, solstice, sthans, bonfire, paywall



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Midsummer Spirits

Published on Monday, 13th June, 2016 at 11:17 under the columns category, by Sarah Bostock.
Last Updated on 13th June 2016 at 11:30.

People in the Nordic Countries prepare bonfires to celebrate the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. What do the manmade blazes symbolise?

Midsummer festival bonfire in Finland
Midsummer festival bonfire in Finland
Photo: Janne Karaste/Wikimedia Commons


Dating back to ancient times, bonfires were a means of protection for humans against evil spirits and witches who walked the earth when the Sun began its journey southwards.

The bonfire provided protection against spirits, warded off darkness. It was a crucial part of celebration of the Sun’s turning – strengthening it, and helping sustain life.

According to tradition, witch dolls were placed on top of the pyres as the flames had cleansing power.

Peasants believed that should evil spirits and trolls be nearby, they would show themselves through the flames. It was believed that they were the one true Evil.

Baldur – the Deity of summer

It is also most likely that Midsummer’s Day originated from pagan times, and is one of the oldest celebrations.

The huge bonfires alight throughout Scandinavia in celebration are formerly known as Baldur’s Balefires.

The myth of Baldur is a well-known story in Old Norse mythology. Baldur, the son of Odin, reigned over summer.

His death was attended by gods, giants, elves, dwarves, Valkyries amongst others who watched as the ship carrying Baldur’s body was torched.

Midsummer’s Day – a time of healing

Whilst the Summer Solstice is a time of warding off evil spirits with bonfires, Midsummer’s Day served a more meaningful purpose to the People.

Medieval wise men and women – the doctors of the time – would gather certain herbs that were needed to cure people for the rest of the year.

Many believed Midsummer to hold magical properties through flowers and herbs, with dew that fell on Midsummer Eve possessing healing qualities.

Midsummer, celebrated on 23rd June, is known as Jonsok (Johannesvake) or Sankthans, after John the Baptist.

How will you be spending yours?




Published on Monday, 13th June, 2016 at 11:17 under the columns category, by Sarah Bostock.
Last updated on 13th June 2016 at 11:30.

This post has the following tags: midsummer, solstice, sthans, bonfire, paywall.





  
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