The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. People believed that mid-summer plants, especially Marigold had miraculous healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. Mid-summer celebration was celebrated as a sacrifice time in the sign of the fertility.The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the day, which falls on the previous eve.
Roses are of special importance on Midsummer’s Eve. It is said that any rose picked on Midsummer’s Day will keep fresh until Christmas.
At midnight on Midsummer’s Eve, young girls should scatter rose petals before them and say:
"Rose leaves, rose leaves,
Rose leaves I strew.
He that will love me
Come after me now."
Then the next day, Midsummer’s Day, their true love will visit them.
The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives. This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the "grand [sexual] union" of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for marriage today. In some traditions, newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony namely The Honeymoon.
A Midsummer Nights Dream act IV, scene I. Engraving from a painting by Henry Fuseli, published 1796.