In the Northern Hemisphere, we’re nearing the summer solstice. Balmy nights, cheerful crickets and dewy grass beg us to head outside and celebrate the season.
Midsummer has its roots in Northern European cultures, though it’s celebrated all over the world in some form or another, whether as a religious or secular holiday time. Some of the celebrations happen on the date of the actual summer solstice while others fall anywhere between June 19 and June 26.
Want to host a Midsummer celebration? Here are some tips:
First, extend the invitation
Make clear to your guests that fairy wings and donkey ears, while welcomed, will be strictly optional. I suggest having everyone over after the heat of the day has passed, around six or seven in the evening. Let guests know what time you’re planning on wrapping up, as well, and if they’re welcome to camp out.
The interior? Fuggedaboudit.
Assuming that the weather is nice, your guests shouldn’t need to be inside for too long. This is a great thing in terms of how much inside prep you need to do. Consider it a porch party. Clean the bathroom and kitchen, but forget the rest and keep guests outdoors.
Bonfire and lights
If you can burn something, do it! The bonfire is the oldest symbol of this holiday, a brilliant reminder of the sun’s power. Brush up on your town or neighborhood’s rules for fires, and be aware of any burn bans that may be in effect. If a fire isn’t possible, (carefully!) simulate the effect with candles, torches or fairy lights.
Feast, feast, feast
Like any celebration worth its salt, Midsummer is traditionally celebrated with shared food. Some traditionalish foods you might like to include on your menu:
- summer berries with whipped cream
- pickled or salted herring
- new potatoes with sour cream dressing
- boiled eggs
- cheese pie
- Swedish meatballs
- and Strawberry shortcake.
Of course, being a summer fête, you could also just go with your usual grill fare.
Some countries erect a Maypole to celebrate Midsummer. It’s a fun way to interact with guests! Attach long ribbon, cord or vines to the top of the pole and invite guests to dance and spin around, wrapping the line around the pole as they go.
Make a flower crown
Whether you use real or faux, making a flower crown not only offers you an earthy vibe, but it’s also a traditional way to celebrate summer’s beautiful blooms. Set out supplies for guests and have a DIY flower crowning party.
Music and dancing, of course
Play a little music (at a respectful level for your neighborhood) and invite guests to dance, laugh and sing along. If your guests need a little coaxing, host a hula-hoop contest, pass around bottles of bubbles or break out the Maypole again.
How do YOU celebrate Midsummer?