For example, Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890), one of the largest compendiums of seasonal ethnographic lore ever compiled, devotes nearly 5-dozen pages to chronicling the customs associated with the Midsummer’s bonfires alone.
Yet we, as gloomy-goth American Nightshade Neopagans, seem to all but ignore that set of facts…
Seriously now, how often do we see June Solstice and its lore included in popular or scholarly Neopagan media and given to be as significant or even important as a part of our descriptions of the other high days on the Wheel of the Year? Comparatively speaking?
"Evil burning day-moon" my ass.
Oddly enough, the modern societies of Northern Europe still uphold the old Midsummer traditions and the whole populations of Sweden, Norway and Denmark go all-out every June and carry on without us with national holidays celebrating it.
So. There’s my old rant and I’m sticking with it...
I’m sure that a lot of you take umbrage with some of that phrasing and others may be offended by my generalized characterization of “we… Neopagans”…
BUT NEVER MIND!
THIS TIME I’M HERE TO DECONSTRUCT
ANOTHER POPULAR PAGAN FACTOID…
OK guys, let's push all that
FAERY LORE BACK TO
MAY-EVE WHERE IT BELONGS...
SHAKESPEARE’S PLAY HAD
NOTHING TO DO
WITH MIDSUMMERS’ EVE !!!
‘Matter of fact when you look at it, the setting of the play ranges over three or four nights total, leading up to MAY EVE... and that’s it. Go on, it's right up there on the shelf, check it yourself...
Have a look over at Wikipedia, ( @ 2016-mid2017** ).
BTW, In the article subsection “Problem With Time”, I’ve woven-in about a third of the text of that paragraph myself… Well, that’s another distraction; Moon, astronomical stuff, you know, me...
BUT for today’s MAIN POINT:
Look at the section above it, before the 'Time one;
the one titled “SOURCES” and you'll see that...
1.) Per Shakespeare historians, it remains officially unknown when and where the play was first performed.
2.) There is a popular and plausible (but unproven) model that the play was first presented at a gala royal or high society wedding-celebration held on Midsummers Eve – and hence it retained a “dedicatory” but confusing title, unrelated to the timeline depicted in the play itself…
3.) As a consequence, the intention of name of the play remains a puzzle. Nothing in the play alludes to or would confirm that it had anything to do with Midsummers, yet a number of points allude to one of the four days of its duration was actually May Eve.
--------------Theseus, right at the play's beginning declares
"four happy days bring in another moon..."
and also, Hippolyta says:
"And then the moon, like to a silver bow
"And then the moon, like to a silver bow
new-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities."
( Click to enlarge... )
** the Wikipedia article subsection's text, as it stood since I added to it in 2016:
" Problem with time
There is a dispute over the scenario of the play as it is cited at first by Theseus that "four happy days bring in another moon." The wood episode then takes place at a night of no moon, but Lysander asserts that there will be so much light in the very night they will escape that dew on the grass will be shining like liquid pearls. Also, in the next scene, Quince states that they will rehearse in moonlight, which creates a real confusion. It is possible that the Moon set during the night allowing Lysander to escape in the moonlight and for the actors to rehearse, then for the wood episode to occur without moonlight. Theseus's statement can also be interpreted to mean "four days until the next month." Another possibility is that, since each month there are roughly four consecutive nights that the moon is not seen due to its closeness to the sun in the sky (the two nights before the moment of new moon, followed by the two following it), it may in this fashion indicate a liminal "dark of the moon" period full of magical possibilities. This is further supported by Hippolyta's opening lines exclaiming "And then the moon, like to a silver bow New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night of our solemnities."; the thin crescent-shaped moon being the hallmark of the new moon's return to the skies each month. The play also intertwines the Midsummer Eve of the title with May Day, furthering the idea of a confusion of time and the seasons. This is evidenced by Theseus commenting on some slumbering youths, that they "observe The rite of May."
(emphasis mine. - egc.)---------------------------------------
With thanks to Maria Stoy who helped me get a start on this rant some ten years or more ago... - e.