Roll in dew covered grass tonight according to Icelandic folklore

The Lake Valley, or Vatnsdalur in North Iceland is a …

The Lake Valley, or Vatnsdalur in North Iceland is a lush green area perfect for dew-bathing. Iceland Monitor/ Einar Falur Ingólfsson

Jónsmessa, or Midsummer's Night is celebrated on June 24th and is shrouded in a mysterious veil of folklore. However, the real midsummer's night is actually today, on June 21st, the longest day of the year when the sun never sets in Iceland. 

Respected professor and author Njörður P. Njarðvík writes on his Facebook page today; "The true Jónsmessa, or mass of John the Baptist when we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, is today. In the fourth century the birth celebration of Jesus was decided to take place at Winter Solstice and therefore the birth of John the Baptist at summer solstice.  This was according to the Julian calendar with the Winter Solstice occuring on December 24th. When the Julian calendar was replaced by the civil calendar in 1584 this was not corrected and therefore the symbolic connection to the sun's cycle disappeared.  It is therefore of no use to bathe oneself in the dew on the eve of June 24th."

The bathing in the dew which Njarðvík is referring to is a folkloric tradition in Iceland which says that it's healthy to bathe in the dewy grass on the eve of Jónsmessa.  Icelandic folklore also states that on this night, cows gain the power of speech and seals become human.  And if you sit on a crossroads where all four roads lead to separate churches at night, elves will attempt to seduce you with gifts and food. 

Tonight the sun sets at 12:03 AM in Iceland and rises again at 02:56 which means that actually there is no real darkness, just a bit of twilight. Unfortunately though it's a rainy day so the chances of watching the midnight sun are slim. 

The midnight sun photographed in Eyjafjörður, North Iceland.

The midnight sun photographed in Eyjafjörður, North Iceland. Iceland Monitor/ Rúnar Þór




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