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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... Midsummer's day.


CURWOOD: June 21st marks the summer solstice, according to our solar calendar. But down here on Earth, there's a slightly different schedule. So, 3 days after the official start of summer, get ready to celebrate midsummer day. This ancient holiday is one of the quarter days on the Celtic calendar. Farming communities would mark the midpoint of the growing season with festivals. In Ireland, bonfires were lit on hilltops and men would try to jump over them. In Lithuania, girls would place wreaths in rivers. The farther her wreath floated, the sooner she would be married. People washed their face in the morning dew to become more beautiful, and anyone who could find the elusive fern blossom would become wise, rich, and happy. But as Shakespeare reminds us, the real action took place just before dawn. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Theseus, the duke of Athens, asked his master of the revels, Philostrate, "What abridgement have you for this evening? What mask? What music? How shall we beguile the lazy time, if not with some delight?" And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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