A Flaming Fête With Flowers

Midsummer bonfire
Flowers of flame flare out bright
Live on as embers

As the Sun passes over the Tropic of Cancer and hangs directly overhead, we celebrate with flowers which represent the Earth’s energies, water to represent the water sign Cancer, and fire which represents the Sun.

sun_tarot_card

  While the mystical hordes gather at Stonehenge and other sacred and ancient sites, some of us must make do with the materials available to us and instead have a Midsummer party in a garden or park.

You can always create your own sacred circle at home, as here.

  If the fire was a pyre built from the Nine Sacred Woods of the Bonfire: rowan, birch, ash, alder, willow, hawthorne, oak, holly and hazel, that would be ideal – “Nine woods ‘neath the cauldron go, burn them quick and burn them slow”, but if you are pressed for time and wood variety, you can make do with a disposable barbeque tray, just sprinkling dried herbs over the coals to create a fragrant smoke.

 This will attract air elementals to your gathering, who may be pleased at your respect for the Old Ways and bestow good luck to those present.

air_spirits

 It is traditional to cook your food over the Midsummer fire, and an ideal option for this is Snobrød, for which we are using sticks gathered from the forest.  This way everybody can toast their own, and stick their own sausage in afterwards.

 Yes, it’s a sausage party. So mote it be!

Snobrød

 Make a simple bread dough:

1 & ½ cup of warm water
3 teaspoons active yeast
4 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling

In a large bowl, mix the warm water and the yeast. Let it stand until yeast dissolves – about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well, then knead the resultant dough on a floured surface, adding flour if the dough is sticky.

Knead for at least 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and let it sit in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 1 hour. Punch the dough down and drizzle with olive oil. Put in a large portable container with a lid until cooking time.
…or cheat and buy Pilsbury Instant Dough from the chilled section of the supermarket.

 Whichever you choose, take a sturdy stick which has had the bark scraped from the end, leaving it clean and white. Wrap a thin strip of the dough around the stick, then toast it at the fire until it is baked. Wait until the fire has burned down to embers to do this, or it will not cook through.

 

 

Pull it off the stick and insert a hot dog sausage into the convenient stick-hole.

 

 

Running water or pools of water provide the element of the Crab – a garden sprinkler or even a paddling pool would do nicely. If those aren’t available, at least take a few water pistols and shoot each other with them intermittently.

 “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (Act III, Scene II)- A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 Use flowers for decoration, weaving daisy chains for necklaces and wearing floral headdresses – and eat flowers, as in:

 Violet Shortbread

125g butter
50g sugar
125g plain flour
50g ground rice or ground almonds

Sugar to dredge
(Sugar- mix in violet infused sugar if you have it. I used 75% plain sugar and 25% violet sugar)
Crystallized violets
Crème Fraiche to serve

Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy, then add the flour and almonds/rice and stir until well blended, throwing in some crystallized violets at the end.

 

 

 Press out onto a greased baking sheet into a round, then mark it into pieces and shape it into a flower. Sprinkle with sugar – violet sugar if you have it. Prick it all over. Bake in a medium oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.

 Serve with crème fraiche and crystallized violets.

 “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.” (Act II, Scene I)- A Midsummer Nights Dream

midsummer_nights_dream

A festive Midsummer drink which combines all three elements in one bowl is:

 Rosy Rum Feuerzangenbowle

Orange juice 1 carton
Pineapple juice  1 carton
1 bottle golden spiced rum (I used a generic supermarket version)
1 shot high-proof rum such as Goslings Black Seal or Spiced Tiki Fire
The juice of 10 fresh limes
6 shots rose petal liqueur such as Lanique or Briottet

IMAG1730

1 zuckerhut or sugarloaf (Available from the gift shop at Skansen open air museum in Stockholm, Sweden. Or, online)

 

Lots of ice. A perfect thing would be to make an ice ring in a bundt cake tin with some gold edible glitter added. I couldn’t find my bundt cake tin, so I made oversized ice cubes with glitter in a rubber mould.

IMAG1747_1

Place your big ice in the punch bowl= WATER. Then pour the juices, rum, and rose liqueur over it= FLOWERS.
Place a German sugar loaf on a metal rack or clamped in metal tongs above the punch. Substitute sugar cubes if you can’t find a loaf. It needs to lie on its side, and have a reliable source of flame to ignite.

I tried with a cigarette lighter and it was no go. Try a mini-flame-torch for Creme Brulee use, or at least a solid taper. Otherwise you might end up having a quiet but savage argument with your significant other about lighting methods and their inadequacies, and have to badly Photoshop a flame onto your loaf later 🙂

fire_punch_prep
If you have some swords available, the traditional method of positioning the sugar loaf is to use crossed swords, or long metal knives. You could use strips of chicken wire and thread flowers into the holes.

I’m using knives.

Slowly pour the high-proof rum over the loaf and allow to soak in for a minute. Light the loaf on fire and let it caramelize and drip into the punch. If it goes out, you can drip on more rum and relight your= FIRE.

 

 

I made headdresses by purchasing a bag of cheap plastic head bands online, and gathering a big bunch of mixed silk flowers at the pound shop. A glue gun IS essential for this.

 

 

It’s so simple, I hardly know where to start…..why, you simply pull the flowers off their wire stems and glue them to the head bands. If you had twigs or sticks, you could glue them on as little twiggy horns.

midsummer_party

If you have a bonfire on the ground, or even a BBQ tray there, make sure you each leap across the fire, to purify yourselves and ensure good health.

And if you see a man with an asses head – try not to fall in love with him. Somebody is messing with you.

Annex - Cagney, James (A Midsummer Night's Dream)_03

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