From the Summer 2008 issue of The OR KIDS Bulletin.
Hey Ho High Midsummer
by Jennifer Hooper AOR
Midsummer. Solstice. Festival of Balder. Whatever you call it, it has come again with it’s light, warmth and energy. All throughout the world the Summer Solstice has been recognized as significant. To those in the Germanic lands, those of Northern European heritage, the midsummer celebrations were especially important. For those in Odin’s Holy Nation in addition to the sun’s fullness, this time marks the height of the power Balder the Shining One and also the beginning of his dreams . It is a time when we honor him and his beloved Nanna with words, deeds and blessings and when we look ahead to his death and return. Throughout the lands in times ancient and modern Balder’s Fires, now referred to as balefires or bonfires were lit. Some large, some small but with the same common thread running through them. Celebration. Honor.
All across our Odal Lands customs in addition to the balefire mark the occasion and continue to thrive. In Sweden the native Folk dance hand in hand around the greenery and flower adorned Majstang or Maypole to the tune of a fiddle or accordion. Also observing the custom Atta Maja, meaning ‘to decorate with green leaves and branches’, which they do with great abundance.
In Finland a focus on the importance of Birch is observed in addition to the Maypole dancing and bonfires. Birch is brought into the house and hung around the horns and necks of cattle to protect, bless and ensure future happiness.
In Norway and Denmark a procession to the fire site is led by a musician and while the fires blaze it is believed that the huldur-folk participate in the merrymaking.
Yes, throughout the ages and throughout Midgard our Folk have celebrated. From Scandanavia to England, Vinland and beyond. Where ever our Folk have made their homes they have looked on this day as special and unique and celebrated as their ancestors did even if sometimes they forgot why. We Odinists however have the distinct honor of not only continuing in celebration, but also in recognizing the deeper meanings behind and beyond the merriment.
Hail Balder and Nanna!
Hail the Ever Giving Sun!