A contributor to the BBC magazine takes the summer solstice as an opportunity to comment on the UK’s paucity of good festivals — particularly at midsummer:
If in this year of 2013, an interplanetary anthropologist came to England for fieldwork, what would they discover? On a variable Sunday each spring, we give our children more chocolate than is good for them, eat roast lamb and visit garden centres.
On the last day of October, we dress the kids up in old sheets, black bin liners and plastic fangs, and send them down the street to extort sweets from our neighbours. A few days later, we gather around a bonfire, set off rockets and celebrate the execution of a Catholic conspirator. The following month, we get together with our birth families to exchange gifts, to eat too much and to argue.
And that’s about it.
Not that he wants to be a Druid or anything: “Druids parading at Stonehenge seem to me as contrived as Morris dancers.” But there is a lack.
For American culture, I suggest, the Fourth of July takes the place of midsummer, falling less than two weeks later, and being a time for family and community gathering, feasting, and loud noises.