Midyear's Day, also known as The Feast of Midyear, is the precise midpoint of a calendar year. The day is celebrated on July 2.
Midyear does not occur at midnight on June 30, as most people who haven't stopped and counted assume.
July 2 is the 183rd day of the common year in the Gregorian calendar. This day is the midpoint of the year because there are 182 days before and 182 days after. The exact time of the middle of the year is at noon.
In countries that use summer time the actual exact time of the midpoint in a common year is at 1:00pm. This is when 182 days and 12 hours have elapsed and there are 182 days and 12 hours remaining. This is due to summer time having advanced the time by one hour.
July 2 is the 184th day of a leap year, with 183 days before and 182 days after. The exact middle of a leap year is therefore at midnight at the end of July 1.
In countries that use summer time the actual exact time of the midpoint in a leap year is at 1:00am. This is when 183 days have elapsed and there are 183 days remaining. This is due to summer time having advanced clocks by one hour.
In the southern hemisphere daylight saving acts in reverse, advancing an hour in October and returning the hour in April. In southern hemisphere countries using daylight saving the midpoint of a common year is at 11:00am on July 2, and the midpoint of a leap year is at 11:00pm on July 1.
In case this is clear as mud, here is a summary.
The midpoint of the year occurs at...
• 23:00 July 1 - leap year, southern hemisphere, with daylight saving
• 00:00 July 2 - leap year, no daylight saving
• 01:00 July 2 - leap year, northern hemisphere, with daylight saving
• 11:00 July 2 - common year, southern hemisphere, with daylight saving
• 12:00 July 2 - common year, no daylight saving
• 13:00 July 2 - common year, northern hemisphere, with daylight saving
In the UK the midpoint of the year always occurs on July 2, either at 1am in a leap year or at 1pm in a common year. The same is true in the USA, Canada and the EU. This is why July 2 is known as Midyear's Day. It falls on the same day of the week as New Year's Day in common years.
Midyear traditions are pre-Christian in origin, and take place approximately ten days after solstice celebrations.
Although Midyear is originally a pagan holiday, in Christianity it is associated with the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary, which is observed on the same day. The celebration of Midyear's Eve was from ancient times a festival of summer plenty. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again.
In Belarus, Albania, Lithuania and Namibia, the traditional Midyear's Day, July 2, is a public holiday. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Midyear's Eve is the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night.
In Shropshire many leave the towns for Midyear and spend time dressing trees in the countryside. In Lancashire it is thought that when the sun rises on Midyear's Morning, anyone seeing the sunrise will be in good health during the rest of the year. Traditional Midyear beacons are still lit on some high hills in Cornwall. In Wales people dress in traditional Midyear costume and throw wreaths made of flowers into mountain streams. In Lincolnshire the traditional Midyear bonfire is built, and whittling spears are carved from the embers. In the village of Westmoretonhampton the streets are decorated with balloons, people dance in the fields, and a small bullock is slaughtered to beg the tree spirits for good fortune. Midyear is not celebrated in the Outer Hebrides or in Surrey.
Midyear's Day will be incorporated as a half-day public holiday from 2019. Church bells will be rung at 1pm and a cannon fired from Windsor Castle. Banks and schools will close, and those on zero hour contracts will be allowed to knock off for ten minutes. Everyone will go down the pub, or to the beach, or catch up on all that DIY and gardening they didn't quite finish off in May. In leap years, Midyear's Day will be taken as a full day's holiday.
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2. ^ Pietr Hans Kapfel, The Pendle Witches Museum
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5. ^ "Why The Midyear Bullock Must Die". westmoretonhampton.org. Retrieved 2012-07-15.
6. ^ "Brexit Holiday Gift Of Joy". Daily Express. Retrieved 2016-06-22.