Today I butchered a rose in the name of love and folklore science only to realise at the end, I’d gone horribly wrong. It’s Midsummer’s Day, also known as St John the Baptist’s Day. And it’s said that on Midsummer’s Day if you pluck a rose blindfolded during the twelve chimes, then wrap it in white paper, stow it, open it up at Christmas, not only will it be as fresh as the day it was plucked, if you then place the rose against your chest, it will be whipped away by your one true love. Woo hoo!
Now, I was already taking the liberty of interpreting the twelve chimes as midday as I really needed an early night last night (plus the rules were not specific), but this morning was particularly busy so I only got hold of a rose just before noon. Then ran home, took a quick photo, popped on Radio 4, slapped my Pirates of the Caribbean At World’s End complementary bandana on as my blindfold, then sat poised, my hands hovering over the rose, waiting for the chimes. Thing is, chimes is midnight, pips is midday, not nearly enough time to pluck the petals off a rose especially with no intro signalling when to go. But regardless, I ripped and I ripped and when I slipped off the blindfold, all the petals were plucked and lying on a sheet of white paper in front of me. There were a lot of petals. And a lot of petals and the bottom of a rose is quite difficult to wrestle into a sheet of A4 printer paper. I resorted to Sellotape. Probably could have used a seal.
Which is when I re-read the instructions. Pluck a rose. Then I looked at another source which said you actually wear the rose on Christmas Day. I put the packet up to my nose and breathed in the rosy appley smell coming through the paper. Pluck the rose, not pluck the rose petals.
For a brief moment, I thought about lying, forgetting the rose entirely and doing something else today. After all, it’s a great day for folklore (I had originally intended to run round Chanctonbury Ring seven times at 7am to see if the Devil would appear with a bowl of porridge, but, ahem, slept through my alarm). But that’s just a big old slippery slope. So today was a pluck up. However, I’ve kept the packet of petals and will unwrap it at Christmas to see how everything is. After all, my hot cross bun is still looking remarkably fresh…
Incidentally, in the language of flowers, a white rose means purity. I might have messed that bit up too.
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books
Simpson, J. and Roud, S. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford, Oxford University Press