20th June 2014: Midsummer

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This weekend is midsummer, and to celebrate, Isabelle Charmantier has found these wonderful Linnaean manuscripts. Happy midsummer!

Between 1732 and 1749, Linnaeus travelled throughout Sweden and to the continent. Linnaeus´ final major journey was to Skåne in 1749 - a journey which was funded by the government. Linnaeus was by now well-established, and could enjoy the benefits of a horse and carriage while travelling. The results of the journey to Skåne were published in 1751, and form what is probably the most detailed description of one of Linnaeus´ journeys. On midsummer’s eve, St John’s Eve, Linnaeus was in Skanor, a village with a church with a scaled spire, said to be the most ancient church in Skåne. In his diary, Linnaeus drew a full-page sketch of the elaborate maypole with its yards and shrouds and flags...

full-page sketch of the elaborate maypole with its yards and shrouds and flags...

..and he has written 'Majstung’ for ‘maypole’ in the corner of the drawing

full-page sketch of the elaborate maypole with its yards and shrouds and flags...
full-page sketch of the elaborate maypole with its yards and shrouds and flags...

Linnaeus describes the youths and maidens assembled in the market-place; the lads bearing staves and the girls flowers:

‘They bound together the staves in the form of a high mast, with a cross-piece, and in a few minutes the whole pole was dressed with garlands and flowers which hung down from the projecting points. The maypole thus prepared was one of the most beautiful, and was hoisted amid joyous exclamations. The young people danced round it the whole night, notwithstanding the rain.'  (From Florence Caddy, Through the fields with Linnaeus: a chapter in Swedish history (1887), p. 265)

full-page sketch of the elaborate maypole with its yards and shrouds and flags...

The maypole drawing was reproduced in the 1751 printed diary.