Tag Archives: Summer Celebrations

Bilberry Sunday

The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar

Image from The Organic Kitchen Garden 2017 wall calendar. Colander of blackberries © Sonja Dahlgren. Click image for more info.

In Ireland, the last Sunday in July is known as Bilberry Sunday, although it seems the custom of going to the mountains to look for bilberries has somewhat died out. I found one reference online to a festival in Ardagh, Ireland, in 2015 where the participants climbed Bri Leith (also known as Ardagh Hill) to collect bilberries.

I read of one old custom where the girls would bring home bilberries and bake them into a cake to present to the one they loved. But Máire MacNeill, in her book on the festival of Lughnasa (August 1), says the boys make the girls bilberry bracelets, which are left behind when it’s time to return home. Either way, this is a courting festival like May Day, three months earlier. Continue reading

Midsummer Purification Ritual

Image from our Gardens of the Spirit 2021 wall calendar featuring photography by John Lander. Click image for more info.

Thanks to my niece, who found a mention of this festival through her favorite Japanese seasonal treat shop, I recently attended a midsummer purification ritual at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine, a Shinto shrine in Granite Falls, Washington. The purpose of the ritual is to get rid of any negative energy from the first half of the year in order to begin the second half of the year with a fresh start. In Japan at the Tsubaki Shrine, the purification ritual takes place each year on June 30. Continue reading