Have you ever had a party with low attendance because everyone else had the same party date? Happens all the time with all the big holidays and some of the smaller ones, too.
Next time, be the happy guest at your friend’s party and let open your own home for a lesser-known holiday on another weekend.
One suggestion? Late June gives us the longest day of the year (well, at least the one with the longest amount of daylight) on the Summer Solstice, a holiday also known as Midsummer (or Letha) in some circles.
This year was our 2nd Midsummer Fairy Fest and Frolic, with an evening start time (to take advantage of the late-day sun while escaping some of the late-June heat), plenty of lighting for when the sun did go down and a small bonfire (we’re under a burn ban due to drought, so the fire pit had to do instead of the larger one we’d hoped to have). Music played from a well-concealed iPod and dock fairies frolicked around the yard. (Why fairy fest? Lore has it that fairies are more easily seen at the Solstice, if you know where to look!)
Guests were encouraged to come in costume if they felt so inclined, and there was plenty of sun and fairy-focused foods to nosh on while enjoying each other’s company.
Since it does tend to be infernally hot, even in June these days, I wanted to keep the menu light but tasty. Some guests were a bit put out that my usual bacon and potato-laden goodies didn’t make it onto this party menu, but that was before they tasted what new dishes we served up!
- Sliced ham, sliced roast beef and Fruited Chicken Salad served with a variety of breads (Parker House Rolls, Potato Rolls, Mini Corn Muffins and Marigold Buns*) as well as mayonnaise, whole-grain mustard and creamy horseradish as a make-your-own sandwich bar.
- Vegetables were represented by Carrot Fritters*, Mushroom & Minted-Pea Beggars Purses*, Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Hummus with Pita Crisps, Floral Cheese Tartlets* and Spinach Puffs.
- Desserts were kept light and simple with a variety of melons, Fairy Cakes*, Cornish Saffron Cakes* and S’mores fixings.
- In addition to several beers and lambics, we also had homemade Limoncello, Lemonade and Sun-Worshipper Punch to keep everyone nice and hydrated.
A lot of the menu items (everything marked with an asterisk–though the beggars purses were a blend of 2 recipes) came from a book I picked up some time ago: Celtic Folklore Cooking by Joanne Asala. What’s fun about this book is that in addition to some out-of-the-ordinary recipes, stories and lore, each recipe notes which holiday (of those in the Celtic wheel of the year) it is appropriate for–making planning a party like this much easier!
The surprise favorites were the Carrot Fritter and the Floral Cheese Tartlets–my baby brother happily ate flowers! Of course, not everything was a hit. The Cornish Saffron Cakes were more like dense biscuits and were less than favored. Oh, well, for trying so many new recipes for the party, having only one dud is still pretty good odds.
What out-of-the-ordinary holidays do you like to celebrate?