Friday was Midsummer Eve. Back in the 1990s when my children were young, that was the day when we used to drive through Sweden.
The night before, I and their father would start our 4-week annual holiday. We would take the night ferry to Stockholm arriving in the morning and, after some 12 hours of driving, overnight in Denmark or somewhere in northern Germany.
On Midsummer Day, we would continue on the fast motorways of Germany down to France where we would stay another night somewhere around Strasbourg or thereabouts. The next day, we would head down to the south of France and the Mediterranean.
We would arrive at our holiday destination on Sunday evening being numb and half-dead because of sitting such a long time practically motionless in the car. Nevertheless, our feeling of happiness about the sweet caress of the heat and the certainty that the weather would stay warm throughout the holiday would overrun the discomfort tenfold.
Depending on how our Nordic midsummer or St John’s Day was placed – by us it always falls on a Saturday between June 20 and 26 – we had often times settled down in our rented apartment well before the locals would start celebrating their Fête de la Saint-Jean on June 24.
Especially in the Nordic countries and the Baltics, the feast that elsewhere commemorates the birth of St John the Baptist is primarily a festival of the summer solstice. The tradition to celebrate the longest day of the year dates back to pre-Christian times.
This June, we have had such cold and rainy weather you could hardly have guessed this weekend saw the shortest night of the year. At a time like this I do miss the Mediterranean summer. Even if it is hot and sticky it would be so wonderful not to have to sit under a blanket by a fireplace when watching the FIFA World Cup from Brazil.
All the photos of this post were taken not in the department of Var, where we used to stay, but in Nice and the surrounding towns and villages on our latest trip to the region two years ago in early August.