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Midsummer Garden Fest at Little Paxton

There is something about the summer solstice which excites me – and it’s heading our way very quickly now. We are celebrating it in Little Paxton with a spectacular Open Gardens Day – 16 glorious gardens all open to the public from 11.00am onwards on June 21st.

border two june 17th 09Here is a boader at the Vicarage where we shall be selling yummy ploughman’s lunches from 12 noon and finishing with a Songs of  Praise and handbells at 4.45pm. Only £5.00 to go round EVERY garden and have a fullsome horticultrual experience. More details on:

http://www.ely.anglican.org/parishes/littlepaxton/

Incase you dont know, the word solstice comes from the Latin  “sol ” meaning  sun and ” stice” to stand still. Midsummer’s day marks the summer soltice, the day when the sun reaches its northernmost point and stops before making its journey back to the south of  the equator. So, with the sun reaching its highest point in the sky, it is the longest day of the year – and in Northern latitudes of the British Isles the sun is only just below the horizon even at  midnight and it never gets completely dark.

June 24th is a church ” Quarter day”  and the feast of St John The Baptist is the Christian feast day nearest to the astronomical summer soltice – and is the day celebrated in much of mainland Europe.

Midsummer has been an important event and a reason for celebration for thousands of years. Ancient man dreaded the long, dark days of winter and looked forward to the warm, fertile summer months. The spring festivals marked the end of winter, but midsummer was the time when they could be sure that the sun really HAD come back, and was an occasion for great rejoicing.

Midsummer dew was regarded as having rejuvinating  properties and there were many old customs associated with midsummer.

Herbs, especially St. John’s Wort, gathered on Midsummer’s Day and burnt on bonfires  it ws believed would  keep livestock healthy and banish bad luck.

And remember, if on Midsummer’s Eve, you approach a fern leaf backwards, without looking, and – without touching the leaf – collect the seed (spores), they have to power to make you invisible. Hey, thats sounds useful!

And then there is the great Stonehenge:

stonehenge

Stonehenge is built along an east-west alignment, presumably in order to study the sun, and at dawn on on Midsummer’s Day the the rising sun appears behind the Hele Stone and creates a shadow that reaches deep into the heart of five pairs of sarsen stone trilithons (two upright stones with one laid across the top) arranged in a horseshoe open towards the rising sun.

No wonder the early Christians used the imagery of the sun to talk of the light and power of the Son of God and hymn writers have rejoiced in this imagery as well. Here’s a good hymn for June 21st:

” Christ whose glory fills the skies, Christ, the true, the only light,

Sun of Righteousness, arise, triump o’er the shades of night;

Day-spring from on high , be near;

Day star, in my heart appear.

Thats a good old Charles Wesley hymn.

Well, I probably won’t be out early soaking myself in the midsummer dew – but if I should awake early on Sunday morning, I will take a peep at the sunrsie…..

June 18, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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