History of Midsummer

Midsummer was originally celebrated as St. John’s Day. This day honors the birthday of Saint John the Baptist with a feast. This saint preached on behalf of Christ and inspired many of his followers to support Jesus. He was eventually beheaded because people feared his growing influence. 1

Many customs and traditions have remained the same, though they have lost their religious meaning. The burning of bonfires started as a symbol of Saint John, who Jesus had called “a bright and burning light.” Now the bonfires, which are still part of the midsummer festivities in certain parts of Sweden and Scandinavia, are mainly created for social purposes. Wreaths of flowers also used to be made to hang up on doors in honor of Saint John. Now they are only worn on the head, as decoration. 2


Click here to read about the customs and traditions that are associated with midsummer.

  1. “St. John the Baptist.” Catholic Online. 2011. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=152>.
  2. “St. John’s Eve & St. John’s Day.” The Whys and Hows of Traditional Catholicism. Fish Eaters. Web. 17 May 2011. <http://www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpentecost3.html>.

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