A Dreamy Midsummer Evening
During my years at university, I worked in the theater costume shop as a stitcher, creating a wide variety of stunning and unusual things. One of the most memorable costumes was a flowing floral dress, and three meter train, for Titania, Queen of the Fairies. I had read A Midsummer Night's Dream in high school, but I had never seen it performed. I spent the better portion of a month stitching hundreds of sparkling beads to the train to catch the light like dewdrops trailing behind her.
The summer solstice is traditonally a night of mischief and beauty, the perfect setting for one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedic romances: A Midsummmer Night's Dream. Set on the eve of a "royal" wedding, Shakespeare so aptly wove a tale about this exceptional evening filled with magic, folly, larks, and love.
While some may think him overrated or convoluted, we are talking about a playful genius of composition and comedy. He created a collision of worlds and people, juxtaposing the mythological world of the Greeks, the fairy realms, and the human world for a few hours of mirth. It is this one night a year that all realms and worlds, and nearly every ancient culture, had their own way to celebrate the zenith of the sun’s journey across the skies (read more about how different cultures celebrated the solstice here).
On opening night of the performance, I was mostly eager to see the dress that had consumed my semester. However, I was soon caught up in the story, listening to the banter between fairies and humans, gods and heroes. Under the lights, Titania's dress looked like a field of wildflowers blowing in the wind after a rainstorm. The memory of the performance sparkles as brightly as those beaded dewdrops shone that night on stage.
There are some evenings filled with such magic that when you wake up the next day, it feels ethereal, a bit like a dream. We want to help you create that rarefied experience at the sun's zenith of each year. For me, Midsummer is nearly as exciting as Christmas. I fell in love with fairies as a child and can't help but spend an evening each year believing that Oberon and Titania might just drop by for an unexpected evenfall. Inspired by this mystical night of love gone awry with "winged Cupid painted blind" (Helena, Act I, Scene I), we want to inspire you to create your own gossamer celebration.
GARB & FINERY
"Get your apparel together / good strings to your beards / new ribbons to your pumps. / Meet presently at the palace." (Bottom, Act IV, Scene ii)
What to wear to an evening mingle with fairies and where dreams might come true? The answer is rather simple: a white cotton nightgown. It's a combination of small delights: dainty embroidered details (almost as if done by fairy fingers), diaphanous movement for dancing, airy and breathable, and you can dance the night away and fall into bed to dream of fairies and true love.
As far as any other finery, adorn yourself with a few of our favorite delicate jewels: pearl droplet earrings, glittering crystals, or botanical inspired pieces. Keep it simple and let your skin get that midsummer sun-kissed glow. Fairies and goddesses are naturally lovely, and thus we aspire to be too.
Garlands of flower and herbs were worn for their symbolic powers, to ward off evil spirits. A bit of St. John's Wort for protection. Yarrow for healing. Chamomile for peace. Goldenrod for determination. And let us not forget, our favorite little blue forget-me-nots for remembrance. Take along a bowery basket as you gather.
Oftentimes, these flowers were gathered on Midsummer and woven into crowns. This year, inspired by Titania, Queen of Fairies and Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, we discovered these stunning straw crowns made by hand in Colombia. While they are beautiful on their own, woven with wildflowers, they are suited to any queen.
A memorable evening is only made better by good food. Setting his night of folly and frolicking in Athens, Shakespeare fed his characters well featuring: blackberries, leeks, nuts, apricots, figs, honey and cheese. So fill your with early summer's abundance with a Mediterranean flair.
In honor of Mustardseed and Peaseblossom, make a salad with fresh greens, peas, radishes, and any other fresh vegetables and toppings you like. Dress your salad with a simple mixture of dijon mustard and red wine vinegar. For a finishing touch, add a few edible violets.
AMUSEMENT & MERRY MAKING
It is only in the last 150 years that modern inventions like electricity, wonderful as it may be, have distanced us from the dependence on the sun. In the process, we have let go of many of the traditions that helps us to truly enjoy the sun, its life giving light, and to appreciate its absence when it sets.
Midsummer is the moment to celebrate the sun until it goes down, then light a fire (and use some of our Magic Rainbow Firesticks for a bit more mischief) to keep the spirits at bay and dance into the wee hours of the night. Whatever spin you take on your Midsummer evening, we sincerely hope that it is filled with light and laughter.
Shop our Midsummer collection. If you want to learn more about Midsummer traditions read a few of our other journal articles.
A Midsummer Menu (kid-friendly celebration ideas)
Tale of Fairies and Belief (for those who love fairy lore)
Traditions and Lore (Midsummer with pagan and Christian traditions)