Random Facts: Midsummer

June 24 is the traditional date for Midsummer’s Day (in the Northern Hemisphere), which is also the feast day of John the Baptist.

Astronomically, midsummer is the day of the summer solstice, or longest day, which usually falls on June 20 or 21. When the date of June 24 was set, the Julian calendar was in operation and was a few days out.

The last time it did not fall on either of those dates was in 1975 when it was June 22.

Midsummer’s Day (June 24) is one of the four Quarter Days in the Legal calendar. The others are Lady Day (March 25), Michaelmas (September 29) and Christmas Day (December 25).

Samuel Pepys described Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as “the most insipid, ridiculous play that ever I saw”, but he was given pleasure by its “good dancing” and “handsome women”.

In 14th century England, Midsummer’s Eve was celebrated on June 23 with bonfires and feasting.

In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec, Midsummer Day (June 24) is a public holiday; in the town of Kuldiga, Latvia, it is marked by people running naked through the streets at 3am.

A Midsummer tradition in Finland is for maidens to put flowers under their pillows so they will dream of their future husbands.