Summer Solstice

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and England has some unique celebrations that were certainly around in Regency times and may have dated back centuries, and some of them are just plain weird. The most famous modern solstice celebration is that at Stonehenge, where over twenty thousand people gathered this morning at sunrise.

In Cornwall, there are midsummer bonfire festivals.

Derbyshire has its own peculiar brand of midsummer celebrations with well-dressing, something that is probably associated with the ancient worship of sacred springs. Villagers create pictures made of flowers and leaves stuck into clay in a wooden frame, often very elaborate and detailed, which are then on display at the local well. Although the tradition is associated with the solstice, the season lasts from May until September. In one of those particularly odd English marriages of the sacred and profane, here the Mayor and Bishop of Derby bless the Derby offering of 1997.

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