The Summer Solstice is Friday June 21, 2013. The Summer Solstice is a major celestial event in which civilizations have celebrated the great power of the sun for centuries. Also known as Midsummer, this day marks the first day of summer. It is also the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The word Solstice is derived from Latin meaning sun to stand still, Sol+stice = Sun + to stand still. As the day lengthens the sun rises higher and higher in the sky until it seems to stand still, at its highest point in the sky.
Early Celtic civilizations celebrated the first day of summer with dancing and bonfires, helping to increase the sun’s energy. Chinese honored Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. Druids would celebrate the day as a marriage of Heaven and Earth, resulting in a modern-day belief that it is “lucky” to have a wedding in June. Every year, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge at sunrise where the sunrise is welcomed and Summer Solstice is celebrated.
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
Pagan and earth-based tradition festivals take place where groups of people gather to light a sacred fire and stay up all night long to welcome the dawn. Oak is the wood of choice, the oak tree is associated with strength, stability and the sun. Celebrations included bonfires where couples would leap through the flames with the belief that their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. It is also believed that the bonfires have great power and that prosperity and protection cold be received by jumping over them. Cold embers from fires were charms against injury and bad weather during harvests. They were placed around fields and orchards of crops to protect them and ensure abundance. The ashes of the fire can also be spread on the garden, said to aid in fertility, and walking through the smoke of the fire was traditionally believed to cure sickness and bring good fortune.
Newly married couple jumping through the flames of a bonfire.
Midsummer is thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To rid them off, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. Pagans believe it is an excellent time for weddings, communicating with nature spirits and divination. It is believed that the boundaries between the worlds are thin and the portals between them are open, especially at twilight.
One other traditional Summer Solstice activity was doing cartwheels down a hillside. In this tradition, the wheel represents the wheel of life. Some modern celebrations include a wheel firework display, very appropriate for this “fire festival”!
Pagan Solstice Wheel
Pagans called the Midsummer moon the “Honey Moon” for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice.
There are many different types of celebrations or festivals to celebrate the Summer Solstice. I love the Summer Solstice and the Pagan idea of it rooted in nature and honoring Mother Nature. I love to develop my own celebrations or rituals to celebrate days like this.
When Eric and I got together, I wanted to come up with a celebration ritual for the two of us to enjoy each year. I took a couple of the ideas of what Summer Solstice is and put them together for something fun for us. With it being the “festival of fire” and a day to celebrate the power and energy of the sun i wanted to incorporate fire into our celebration. Living in an apartment, it was always hard to create a bonfire so we decided on a simple fire ceremony involving our charcoal grill and whatever food we choose to grill! Another aspect i incorporated into our ritual was the drinking of Mead, which is Honey Wine. The Pagans called the midsummer moon the “honey moon” named after the honey wine Mead drink that was a popular drink as part of summer solstice wedding ceremonies.
Each year our Summer Solstice celebration will consist of Fire and Mead! I am sure it is something we will continue each year, maybe modifying or adding something to adjust our lifestyle at that time, but it will always include Fire and Mead!
These are the two kinds of mead I got for this year!
This year, on Saturday the 22nd, rather than the 21st (because of schedules) Eric and I are going to go camping for the night. We are going to build a great fire, burn our yule log from the Winter Solstice, drink our mead and dance together around the fire! Too bad we will be in a public state park… because drinking mead and dancing around the fire….NAKED… sounds like the perfect medicine for all that ales.. 😉 I am really excited about this celebration, ready to climb a tree and pee outside! And to celebrate the Summer Solstice with the man of my dreams.
We saved our Yule log from Winter Solstice and will start our fire with the wood from our Yule log. Saving the Yule log is said to bring good luck, then to burn it during the following Summer Solstice helps to release the past and move forward. Something that would definitely be beneficial for Eric and myself.
Find a way to celebrate the Summer Solstice. Whether it be rooted in religion or nature get out and enjoy the longest day of the year!