Midsummer (June 23) in New Orleans is celebrated in a festival also known as St. John’s Eve. During Midsummer, it is said that the Goddess manifests as Mother Earth and the God as the Sun King. In Celtic lore, it regarded as the best time to see fairies and in pagan times it was the feast of the Goddess Aine. In later days as Christianity took over the holidays from the pagans, they changed the festivals to feasts for Saints.
Currently in Catholic celebrations, June 23rd is known as St. John’s Eve, with St. John’s Day celebrated on the 24th, as the day of his birth, though it is not confirmed whether this is the actual day of his birth. It is interesting to note that the pagan story commemorated the balance and changing of rule between the Oak King and the Holly King and then in Christianity, it became representations of the birthday of St. John to represent Summer Solstice and the birthday for Christ as Winter Solstice.
This eve culminates the celebration of Summer Solstice. It begins at dusk on the 23rd and continues till sunrise on the 24th. This day is one of several days throughout the year where the veil is thin and communication with the spirit world is strong and easily accessed.
Though the heat of Summer is just beginning, this date actually begins the ‘metaphorical’ decline of the Sun as it embarks on its journey to the Underworld, which will culminate on December 21st, the darkest day of the year.
Loaded with symbolism, St. John’s Eve was and is still celebrated throughout Europe, with bonfires, parties and celebrations. Perhaps there is no place on earth where St. John’s Eve is celebrated like it is in New Orleans. The French people brought Catholicism with them as they moved to Louisiana and in New Orleans it mixed in easily with traditional African magic, rituals and rites. This blending of the two cultures found common ground in lighting candles in prayer to ancestral spirits and asking saints to intervene when help was needed, as well as revering divine feminine figures in both religions. Read the rest of this entry »