Thursday, 30 June 2016

Midsummers Eve and St John the Baptist

The end of June. Finally the sea water is warm enough for me to venture in.

My favourite swimming place

Summer in Greece has offically begun.  June 23rd was the eve of the feast of St John the Baptist and a time to light bonfires and burn the May Day wreath.   On June 24th greeks celebrate the birth date of St John with church services in the small churches dedicated to the saint.

 The bonfires should be lit at  crossroads.  In the 90's we always lit a small bonfire on this eve and burnt our wreaths, turning the event into a street party with everyone bringing meat to be bbqed and some beer or wine.  Children and adults alike jumped the fire three times to be rid of fleas for the rest of the year and also to bring good luck.   The street party was extremely popular and we had to move it from the street to some waste ground nearby.  Then the Council took over the festivities.

  We organised our own small street party again but our visiting Athenian neighbours complained about the smoke from the bbq and the noise so we moved it into my sister-in-laws yard and finally this year it petered out.  Great pity.  Any excuse for a celebration!  This lively midsummer  fiesta ended up with singing and dancing and late night hilarity, not to mention bags of beer cans (not recycled back then.  They had to be off loaded around the neighbourhood so we didn't get a bad name from the rubbishmen) and mountains of pointy souvlaki sticks.

Building the fire out in the street

Let the party begin

In other countries it is the summer solstice, midsummer, a time to dance round Stonehenge or the midsummer-eve's-pole.  Greece celebrates every year on June 24th but the solstice itself may take place from the 20th to the 24th June.  This year it was on Monday the 20th.  For us it is the longest day of the year and this year coincides with full moon.  These two events only come together once every 70 years.  

In the Northern hemisphere this full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, so I read, because it signals the beginning of the strawberry season.  Not here folks.  Strawberry season finished over a month ago.   In the Southern Hemisphere it is known at the Long Night Moon.
Mid winter down-under.

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