Sunday, 21 June 2009

Summer Solstice

The sun broke at 4.58am this morning to herald in the Longest Day, and Summer Solstice, in England.
Solstice, the name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.

In the Irish calendar, Midsummer is one of the four Irish Quarter days that divide the official calendar, and the evening before (St. John's Eve) is called Bonfire Night. Many towns and cities have 'Midsummer Carnivals' with fairs, concerts and fireworks either on or on the weekend nearest to Midsummer.
In Jersey most of the former midsummer customs are largely ignored nowadays. The custom known as Les cones d'la Saint Jean was observed as late as the 1970s - horns or conch shells were blown. Ringing the bachin (a large brass preserving pan) at midsummer to frighten away evil spirits survived as a custom on some farms until the 1940s and has been revived as a folk performance in the 21st century. This tradition is called in Jerriais faithe braithe les peiles.
A large fair in the parish of St. John was suppressed by an Act of the States of Jersey in 1797 following large scale disorder.
A custom which survived longer, until the First World War, was that of making milk-a-punch: young people would rise early and steal milk from cows in the field and eggs from the chicken-run (sometimes with the connivance of the farmer turning a blind eye) and make a warm flip-type drink.


  1. Interesting post & thanks for sharing!

    Chris :-)

  2. Lovely post Linda! I don't think I have quite had it explained so beautifully.

    Have a lovely Solstice~still much summer and warmth left!