The Summer Solstice is upon us, reminding us to celebrate the nourishing light of the Sun. At the summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere, the Sun travels the longest path through the sky, and that day therefore gives us our longest day of the year.
This day has been celebrated for countless years in many cultures.
Midsummer is a centuries-old Germanic tradition. People celebrated the summer solstice, the day on which plants were said to have healing and magical properties. Bonfires were lit to protect against the forces of darkness, which were said to run free during the shorter days. So it was a festival to celebrate nature, and more specifically summer.
The summer solstice is the first day of summer, and the official beginning of warm weather festivities in the northern hemisphere. People celebrate this day around the 21st June in different ways, ranging from bonfire-lit revelry to sunrise gatherings at places like Stonehenge in Wiltshire in the UK. One of the most coveted seats in the world for the northern hemisphere’s summer solstice traditions is on the grounds of the Neolithic structures at Stonehenge in the U.K. Ingeniously designed to showcase the ascending light of the solstice, the sunrise on this occasion aligns perfectly with a circle carved in stone at the site. Theories of its origin vary, but both mystical seekers and history buffs convene here on the solstice to witness an architectural wonder built, some say, to worship deities of the Earth and the Sun. Stonehenge is one of the ancient mysteries researchers still can’t fully explain.
Since prehistory, the summer solstice has been seen as a significant time of year in many cultures, and has been marked by festivals and rituals. Traditionally, in many temperate regions (especially Europe), the summer solstice is seen as the middle of summer and referred to as “midsummer”. Today, however, in some countries and calendars it is seen as the beginning of summer.
Whether representing the beginning of summer or midsummer, the summer solstice is still a very important and fascinating day the world over.
According to pagan folklore, evil spirits would appear on the summer solstice. To ward off evil spirits, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of these plants was known as ‘chase devil’.
In Northern and Central European Neolithic cultures, the summer solstice may have been related to timings of crop cycles. It was typically marked by Celtic, Slavic and Germanic people by lighting bonfires intended to boost the sun’s strength for the remainder of the crop season and ensure a healthy harvest.
It is the longest day of the year, followed by a short, magical night. Midsummer, the perfect time to celebrate summer with flowers and plants, excitement, and your favourite people around you.