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  A Year of Orcadian Tradition

"June hardly sleeps. Hardly has she covered the fire in the North-West than it's time to kindle the fire in the north-east.
She spreads beautiful cloths everywhere, stitched with flowers."


June June is the lightest month in the Orkney calendar. As the sun climbs to its zenith, at the summer solstice, it barely dips below the western horizon. At this time of the year, it is quite possible to read outside at midnight - I can personally vouch for this, having done it a few times myself.

The midsummer festivities are the most prominent in this month.
  Up until the middle of the 19th century, Midsummer, or Johnsmas, bonfires were lit on hills across the islands. For more information on the island's bonfire traditions, click here.
  The young people from Stromness and Sandwick used to climb to the summit of the hill, Kringlafiold, for three mornings, at midsummer, to meet the rising sun with outstretched arms.

One account of this ritual has the young folk kissing the palms of their hands before uplifting them to the newly risen sun. I wonder whether this tradition may has any connection to the fact that the name Kringlafiold meaning "round hill" could refer to a natural spring found on the hill.

Given the multitude of Celtic traditions surrounding similar sacred springs and wells, was the face washing ritual connected to the hallowed waters of the spring?
  According to some, the selkies, who were condemned to wander through the seas until the Day of Judgement, were permitted to shed their sealskins and assume human form on Johnsmas Eve.
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