Summer Solstice, Litha, Midsummer

By Bastian Groiss

The Summer Solstice, also known as Litha, Midsummer, or St. John’s Day, takes place around June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. You can find the exact date and time here. In the Southern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is celebrated on December 21st or 22nd. This festivity commemorates the longest day of the year and the arrival of summer.

The Summer Solstice is not just a significant event for modern-day celebrations but has been steeped in the rich tradition of various cultures for centuries. The ancient civilizations of the Druids, Greeks, Romans, and Native Americans practiced rituals during the Summer Solstice to commemorate the longest day and the shortest night of the year.

Many of these cultures saw the summer solstice as a time of new beginnings, growth, and renewal. During this time, people would often engage in rituals, dances, and feasts to express gratitude for the abundant blessings of nature.

The ancient Egyptians had a festival dedicated to the sun god, Ra, during the summer solstice. The Druids constructed Stonehenge, a megalith stone monument used for ceremonies and astronomical observation. Native Americans held various celebrations incorporating dance, music, and feasting in honor of the sun and the earth’s fertility.

The Greeks and Romans honored the god of agriculture, Vesta, by lighting bonfires and walking barefoot on hot coals. Similarly, the Celts and Slavs would light bonfires to symbolize the power of the sun and its ability to cleanse and purify. People would jump over the embers for good fortune.

summer solstice bonfire

Russia’s Summer Solstice celebration is dubbed Kupalo, originating from the verb kupati, which means to bathe. Mass bathing activities take place on Midsummer morning. Even young children and cattle bathe in rivers or dew before dawn for stable health and vigor.

Picking and using St John’s Wort has happened since the stone age. It was harvested for potions and to weave garlands to embellish and protect homes and animals. The herb would be hung from the top of doorways or windows to keep negative energy away and to promote healing. In the home, dried herbs like yarrow were burnt to remove old energy and bring in the new. 

The summer solstice is a time of celebration and renewal. It marks a time of growth and productivity, and it is a great time to gather and celebrate the abundance of nature. This celebration is an opportunity for us to express gratitude for the past year’s blessings and set intentions for the year to come.

The Summer Solstice can be a guidepost, a reminder, and an opportunity to find connection, meaning, and belonging in today’s fast-paced world. It offers a chance to reconnect with nature, to slow down and appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

Summer solstice celebration

Here are a few ways you can celebrate and honour the 1st day of summer:

  1. Watch the sunrise: rise early to see the sun’s first rays at this pivotal time. But don’t stop there. Make the sunrise part of your daily life from here on out.  
  2. Light a bonfire: Fire has long been associated with the summer solstice. Light a bonfire to honour the sun and its life-giving energy. You can write something that you intend to release on a piece of paper and burn it. Or gaze into the flames with either a question or an empty mind for answers or inspiration. And don’t forget to sing and dance.
  3. Bathe in natural waters: Early morning bathing on Kupalo is rooted in ancient Slavic rituals. Why not gather some friends and jump in a nearby body of water at sunrise? You won’t regret it.
  4. Celebrate & feast with friends and family: Invite friends and family over for a potluck or bonfire to celebrate the season’s abundance and express gratitude for all of life’s blessings.
  5. Make offerings to the earth: The summer solstice is a time of abundance, and it is an excellent opportunity to offer gratitude for the blessings of the past year. Leave offerings of flowers or herbs at the base of a tree or in a special natural spot.
  6. Build a personal connection with nature: The summer solstice is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature. This could involve taking walks or hikes in natural settings, gardening, learning about local plants/wildlife, or simply taking a moment to sit outside and soak up the sun’s rays.

Celebrating the summer solstice is a way to recognize and strengthen our connection to nature and humanity. Start reclaiming your place in the big scheme of things.

summer solstice event

Integrating the summer season into your life takes more than a celebration and acknowledgement, even though this is a great place to start. To truly sync with your environment for optimal health and harmony requires gradual and continual adjustments. These changes are more significant and challenging the further you live away from the equator. Here are some key aspects to consider:

    • Less sleep when the days are longer
    • More activity when the days are longer
    • Eat foods that grow/are harvested locally (more carbs in summer)
    • Eat during daylight hours (longer eating window)
    • Rise earlier and go to bed later
    • Experience the elements frequently and make the most of the light

Hopefully, you feel inspired to celebrate the Summer Solstice and to let the seasonal changes impact your daily rhythm wherever possible. Know where you are in time. Mind your rhythm, mind your light ☀️

PS. Although daylight hours decrease after the Summer Solstice, temperatures will continue to rise in most regions. This is because it takes time for Earth to cool down, an effect known as seasonal lag.

 

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