Magical Midsummer’s Eve:
Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial/Syrup
Tonight is the night for faeries, magic and mystical revelry, June the 23rd is Midsummer’s Eve, the day before Midsummer Day, also known as St John’s Day, it is the ancient middle of summer as well as the nativity of St John the Baptist. Midsummer, not to be confused with the Summer Solstice, is a potent and ancient celebration and until the 21st century, it was observed in Great Britain, with bonfires, the wearing and decorating of flowers, general feasting and merrymaking! It was also believed that it was the time of the year when witches were abroad, hence the lighting of fires to ward off evil spirits, and if you managed to stay up all night, and were sat in the middle of a stone circle, you might see the “Fae” as in faeries (fairies) and be blessed with good luck for the rest of the year. Sadly, the bonfires and making merry are not observed so much nowadays, if at all, but if you travel to Cornwall (or France) you may still see some Midsummer bonfires burning bright against the pale summer night sky; and in Scandinavia, they still celebrate this mystical time of year with flowers, berries and other special foods, as well as dancing.
We, as a family, celebrated Midsummer’s Eve many years ago; we went to Fountains Abbey to see Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” being performed amongst the old ruins. We trekked across the grass armed with picnic baskets, cushions, a fold-up picnic table and waited with anticipation for the play to start…….sitting on the grassy bank with the stars and moon as our only light, although I do remember candles were scattered about the abbey too, we watched as the ancient play unfolded, it was a magical evening that I will never forget; even my daughter who was only five years old at the time still remembers this special evening.
I offered to make the picnic, and I remember that I made Coronation chicken, little pies and pasties filled with tender chicken and pink ham, sandwiches of all sorts along with fresh green salads and a large fruit cake. I know we took wine, as well as “squash” and juice, but had I made today’s recipe for Elderflower and Strawberry Cordial back then, I feel sure that would have been on the Midsummer Night picnic menu too.
Although I don’t expect my readers, or myself for that matter, to bedeck themselves in flowers and prance around the woods, exciting and fun though it sounds, it would be nice to “restore” the observance of Midsummer by making something special to eat and drink tonight, as well as eating outdoors with candles and freshly picked flowers to dress the tables…….don’t you think?
And so my recipe for today is fruity and floral, to celebrate summer’s bounty, and as well as mixing this pretty pink cordial with water or lemonade, you can also create a fabulous cocktail but mixing it with sparkling wine or champagne. Have a wonderful Midsummer’s Eve and Day, and do let me know what customs and traditions you follow for this special night! Karen
As there are flowers in this recipe, I am adding it to Tea Time Treats this month, as the theme that my co-host Jane from the Hedgcombers and I picked, is Flowers, Edible Plants and Sugar Craft Flowers!
Link to my Elderflower Cordial: