Midsummer celebrations in Europe focus on the summer solstice and are particularly important in Estonian and Latvian cultures where it is observed as a holiday on the same level as Christmas. John’s Day was honored prior to the appearance of Christianity in Estonia, yet the day was named by the crusaders. To the natives, it marked a change in the farming year and was done so by drinking, dancing, singing and following pagan rituals. some of which have very strong roots in folklore. The most prominent of these is lighting a bonfire and jumping over it in order to avoid bad luck and guarantee prosperity. The fire also warded off irksome spirits to safeguard a good harvest, and today the traditions are the largest and most important of the year. In neighboring Latvia, the festival is observed on a large scale, consisting of pagan elements such as eating cheese, drinking beer, singing folk songs dedicated to John. They too light a bonfire to keep burning throughout the evening and jump over it wearing wreaths of flowers or oak leaves. This national holiday has been a strong aspect of Latvia’s culture, having originated as a fertility cult and evolving into numerous traditions, one of which involves revellers running naked through down at three in the morning. Over in Poland, people don traditional dress and girls throw flower wreaths into the Baltic Sea, lakes or rivers. Larger cities observe Saint John’s Night with organized events, the most popular of which is held in Kraków. The old Russian name for John the Baptist was Ivan Kupala – Ivan’s Day is noted as the most expressive folk holiday and a pagan fertility rite that is acknowledged by the Orthodox Christian calendar. Many customs are associated with water, such as autopurification or floating flower garlands in rivers and using the movement to tell their fortunes.
The customs that accompany celebrations in the United States are derived from cultures of the European immigrants who brought them to this country since the 19th century. One of the largest is in New York City’s Battery Park and attracts thousands of people annually, while an event in Illinois that dates back to 1911 features the raising of a maypole, dancing and presentation of an authentic Viking ship. Crimson Dawn park in the Casper Mountains of Wyoming hosts a community bonfire where people are invited to throw in a handful of red soil to grant a wish. The annual Summer Solstice in Santa Barbara, California consists of a festival and parade, while a large number of Finnish and European descendants observe Juhannus with a beachfront bonfire the Saturday following the first day of Summer. No matter how one chooses to memorialize this season, hedonism reigns and the choice of individually expressing such exhilarations through pigments placed on the body are highly encouraged. If in doubt of how to tune in fertility rites, this guide is packed with products that will give you an intergalactic glow that will immediately exalt you to instant diva status.
The Naked Strangers Collection from Illamasqua is advertised as “a place where alter egos are laid bare and naked flesh is a source of unashamed inspiration. In this delicate tipping point between intimacy and and pleasurable detachment, we revel in the unknown; exploring between pure monogamous, gilded faithful and uninhibited swinger. Exposed nude tones, adorned with rich licks of gold, leave you gasping for more. Don’t restrain yourself, unless, of course, you enjoy it.” There are nine products based on neutral tones and set off with metallic finishes that would certainly gleam glamour when kissed by the glow of a bonfire. A quad of antiquitated colors have been coordinated into the Neutral Palette, and the shadows can be used on other parts of the face and body to create contours and sculpt stark highlights. Indulge your inner snarling pinup with Vintage, Stealth, Wolf and Obsidian to manifest a representation of your individual balance of light and darkness. For a hypnotic illumination, utilize Zygomatic Cream Blusher, a naked pink brown that can be applied under or over foundation depending on how daring you want to be. For brilliant radiance, Naked Rose Powder Blusher – neutral beige pink – can enhance and define every face shape that commands attention. Generating a full, glossy appearance to lips is easy as applying the platinum gold Stranger, an Intense Lipgloss rich in color and high in shine without that sticky feeling. Adding sexiness to your smile can be achieved with Intimacy, a nude pink brown Sheer Lipgloss that is designed to amplify every pout, which can be used solo or paired with lipstick for that extra boost. A trio of nail varnishes named Faithful [coppered metal, metallic finish], Swinger [glistening platinum gold, metallic finish] and Monogamous [creamy flesh pink, matte finish] bring a modern edge to any retro styled manicure. The most intriguing product of this collection is Electrum, an antique gold Liquid Metal that is described as a highly pigmented cream which can be smoothed onto various areas using fingers, eye shadow brush or blending brush depending on the desired finish.
NARS also has nine products that compose their Summer 2012 collection, though the colors are much more bold and meant to enliven an adventurous spirit. It begins with Ramatuelle, an eyeshadow trio that contains Silver, Icy Peach and Apricot shades made with highly pigmented, micro-fine powders that can be worn at lengthy intervals and remain crease resistant. The contemporary, uncommon, occasionally astonishing eyeshadow duo Marie-Galante pairs iridescent Violet with Regal Blue for looks that can be subtle or smoldering depending on how it is applied. Iconic shades do not have to be intimidating, because even a light coat of Liberté blush takes this high-intensity Burnished Apricot hue and delivers a natural-looking flush. Soft Touch Shadow Pencils provide a portable and functional product that is a versatile formula which glides on creamy, blends easily and formulated to be long lasting – Calabria is a Shimmering Plum that is ideal as a base for layering with powder shadows for increased eye intensity. Velvet Matte Lip Pencils are enriched with Vitamin E and come in rich shades such as Never Say Never, a vivid Lilac Rose that gives lips smooth, seamless color that will last for hours. Velvet Gloss lip pencils contain ingredients meant to moisturize and increase hydration – the Nude Beige Pink known as Buenos Aires is gorgeously glossy with a spectacular shine that is ensured to stay put. My personal favorite of the collection is Moscow, a Strawberry Red matte lipstick enriched with mango butter to repair dryness and açai oil for antioxidant benefits. Some may prefer a more sheer lipstick, which is where the Grape toned Vendanges comes into play, as it provides sophistication through a patented blend of conditioners to hydrate, nourish and protect lips. Capture the essence of Summer with Trouville, a brilliant Seashell Pink opaque nail polish that is chip-resistant and boasts prolonged gloss retention that prevents discoloration.
What one uses to cleanse the body is just as important as the products that adorn the body, and I make it no secret that I greatly enjoy Lush products, mostly because they are created by hand so I feel good supporting the company. There are several new items that have popped up on their website, the first of which is Hot Milk – a comforting blend of patchouli oil and coconut milk [which is vegan friendly] to soften skin right before slipping into bed. If a decadent massage is right up your alley, Nutts features highly moisturizing ingredients such as organic coconut butter and tahini paste for super soft skin, while the intoxicating scent of chocolate comes from cocoa butter will make it difficult to resist indulging in happiness. The idea of bathing in the brilliant pink and orange of a Summer sunset is certainly appealing, and the Uluru bath bomb contains plenty of desert rosewood oil, lemon myrtle and sandalwood sourced from Australia for a soothing soak at the end of a long day. Shopping online means having access to the Retro section, which is where one can find Canadian Maple Soap, crafted from the finest maple syrup Canada has to offer and topped with a healthy dose of coffee sugar crystals for that early pick-me-up. All-natural skin care might be hard to come by, but Lush comes through like a champion with their versatile Ultrabalm, which contains candelillia wax, jojoba oil and rose wax to create a protective barrier or relieve discomfort caused by scrapes – it can even be used to tame stray hairs or as a lip balm. Soft hands can be achieved with Handy Gurugu, an herbal lotion made with blends of organic Shea, cashew, almond and pumpkin seed butters along with soothing essential oils ideal for hardworking appendages. The ultimate remedy for sore palms is said to be Tiny Hands, a fantastic hand cream in an appropriately shaped bar that might seem small in size but is big in impact by improving elasticity with creamy coca and Shea butter, argan oil and aloe vera by applying before bed. Nourish nails with Lemony Flutter, a zesty cuticle cream that is thick enough to use on other body parts, and each pot is packed with a lemon-infused butter base blended with beeswax and cold-pressed avocado oil to brighten skin and lighten nails. Enrich yourself with Ocean Salt, an exfoliating cream infused with fresh avocado and coconut that hydrate, a splash of lime and vodka for antibacterial effects, and mineral rich sea salt that softens as it scrubs away dirt while invigorating skin. Follow up with a Breath of Fresh Air, a soothing spray that features a blend of ingredients straight from the sea that are full of nutrients such and provide the skin with essential vitamins.
With your skin pampered and makeup skillfully applied, there is just one more thing to take care of before revealing your ravishing Summer look to the world – the hair. Of course when temperatures soar and you find yourself in the middle of a heatwave for several days, there are plenty of effortless styles that are easy and breezy that will make you look pretty and polished without taking up too much time. The top chic hair styles for this season include but are not limited to: a top knot, high ponytail that is not too perfect, fishtail braid flipped over one shoulder, a low bun with loose and wavy front, side-swept low ponytail with face-framing wisps, crown braids – especially when accented with flowers, an undone updo with hair tucked under, boho skinny braids, wildly natural curls that use humidity to their advantage, a half-up half-down combo with volume at the crown, becahy waves scrunched with surf spray, side-part twists that meet in the back, high bun pushed to the side, side-part with sides pinned back for a windswept feel, teased and tousled tresses, slicked back crown with dry ends, bangs swept off the face and lightly misted with hair spray, a low ponytail half pulled through the holder that creates a tucked bun. To create that born-from-the-sea look which tends to happen naturally if one spends a significant amount of time in the surf, begin with damp hair and apply a quality beach spray to achieve the right texture. Mist the roots and midway down the hair, then use your fingers to work it through to the ends – for hair that is dry or coarse, rub in curl cream to moisturize. Scrunch the ends and encourage curl by blow-drying with a diffuser, or allow strands to air dry before wrapping them around the barrel of a clip-less curling iron. Focus on the area from the root to the mid-shaft, leaving ends free for a more natural, windswept look, and then you are finished. Tack on your favorite accessories and let your personality shine as bright as the Summer sun!
Photo credit: 1 – “Lady Picking Flowers” by J.W. Waterhouse
6 – highlightsmobile.blogspot.com