On any given day you are most likely to find us communing with the gnomes and the fairies Under The Old Oak Tree

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Celebrating Midsummer

Cling, ding ,ding
The summer bells now ring:
There’s laughter on the hills,
The daisies show their frills.
Cling, ding, ding
Be welcome Summer King!

Cling, ding, ding
The summer bells now ring:
The shepherds pipe all day,
The lambkins frisk and play.
Cling, ding, ding
Be Welcome Summer King!

~Wynstones' Summer

W and I have been joyously singing this song all day.  He especially loves the "Cling Ding Ding" lines.   In our family Midsummer/St. John's Day is one of our happiest and most loved celebrations of the year.  W and I have been preparing for this celebration for the past week.  It has been a lot of fun since he was really able to assist with many of the preparations this time.

W helps his mama with the Midsummer decorations.

He is especially proud of these suns, which I cut from some watercolor paintings that W did this week. I oiled the paper to make it translucent with the intent of taping them up to our balcony door.   unfortunately the oil caused them to slip right off of the tape so we decided to scatter them on our table instead.  W likes to point to them and tell me that he made them and that they are beautiful.  They were inspired by this post from Seeds from The Yew Tree.

I also worked on several Window Stars especially for Midsummer in the colors of the sun.  They turned out so beautifully and I love having them hanging on the balcony door, though we may need to edit out the collection a bit as it's getting rather crowded, but they do really brighten up the room when the sun shines through them.  We are very fond of our stars and they have gone a long way towards making this new apartment feel like home.

I love this dragonfly!  Actually I love dragonflies in general and one made from window star folds is just so much fun.  Directions can be found here for the dragonfly, butterflies and flowers.

Other paper decorations included making more suns for the china cabinet and the yellow paper spirals we hung from the dining room chandelier.  Both of these were inspired by All Year Round which remains my go-to book for most of our festivals.  I especially love the explanations and background information this book gives on the festivals and their origins.

My other crafting projects for the day included making floating beeswax candles (which I wrote about last year) and a sand candle.  W supervised me in making these projects but I wouldn't let him too close to the  hot beeswax.  I think both of these are destined to become part of our family midsummer traditions.  W did help make the little dish that holds the sand candle from sand clay that we made together.  We had a lot of fun with it, but he kept trying to eat the clay...silly boy.  He never tries to eat regular play dough, so I'm not sure why he thought the sand clay was edible.

W and I also put together our summer nature table and W has been thoroughly enjoying exploring the various elements of it over and over.  I love how things on our nature table spark his curiosity and  imagination and are the jumping off point for many of the discussions during any given day.

Of course food is always an important part of our family festival, so W and I have been cooking too.  We made homemade honey butter and mixed in some basil from our garden.  It is so incredibly delicious.  We ate it on homemade bread and on corn on the cob and all just loved it!

For our bread, again, inspired by Seeds From The Yew Tree, I attempted to make a  beehive out of bread.  It ended up looking more like a coiled blob, but it is some of the best tasting bread I've made in a while, so I'm not going to complain.  Daddy was as always in charge of the grill which also served as our big fire element since we can't really have a bonfire in our apartment complex.  He grilled delicious burgers and some healthy-ish nitrate-free hotdogs.

While he was grilling W played with some neighborhood kids and I was able to visit with one of the moms who happens to be from one of the places I used to live a while back.

I didn't manage to get the giant bubbles together for this year so W and his new friend played with some bubble wands though most of the bubble solution ended up on the ground...but that's to be expected with toddlers.  W also really enjoyed trying to catch the bubbles I made with mine.

Then we came inside to eat, rounding out our feast with fresh green beans, watermelon and basil lemonade.

For dessert we had the same Summer Berries Bread Pudding I made last year (link to post with recipe).  It was as delicious as I remembered from last year.

W was especially fond of it and really wanted seconds.  Then again, this boy has never met a berry he didn't like and this has fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries in it.

W also celebrated Midsummer by leaving some dried wild blueberries in these little tea cups for the fairies, who should leave him something in return tomorrow morning.  He is really looking forward to seeing what they bring.

I also wanted to mention one other source of information that I have drawn heavily from this year for our Midsummer/St. John's Day celebration.  This post from Christine Natale has so much wonderful information about the day.  She even convinced me to watch A Midsummer Night's Dream on Netflix yesterday while W napped.  I ended up with this 1968 version instead of the ones she recommends since it was the only one available to stream.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, though it is quite obviously a very late 1960's production....oh the strange juxtaposition of the story, scenery and costumes! All the women except for Judi Dench are wearing these little mini dresses and knee high boots and the men's costumes are almost out of a period piece! Ha Ha!

Anyways, back to  Christine Natale's post.  I also really liked her explanation of the significance of St. John's Day coming six months before Christmas and preparing the way for Christ as well as her discussion of balance.  I definitely find that I am needing a bit more balance in my days right now and it is something I will be working on in the coming days as we look towards fall, winter and Christmas.  This has all greatly enriched my appreciation of Midsummer and made it more meaningful on a very profound and personal level.  It is not an aspect of the festival that I bring directly to W, but I know he benefits from my working on it myself.

Wishing you all the happiest of Midsummers!

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