This Saturday marks the longest day of the year and the official start of summer. The St. Noet’s museum website has great information on how the Summer Solstice was celebrated by ancient societies all over the world.
“According to some ancient Greek calendars, the Summer Solstice marked the start of the New Year, and began the one-month countdown to the opening of the famous Olympic games. In the days leading up to the Summer Solstice, the Romans celebrated the Vestalia, a religious festival to honour Vesta, goddess of the home and hearth. Before the rise of Christianity, Slavic, Germanic and Celtic tribes celebrated the midsummer with bonfires, believing that they would boost the sun’s energy and guarantee a good harvest. It was believed that bonfires could also help banish demons and evil spirits.”
The Summer Solstice is the perfect time to appreciate the power of sun; flowers blooming, fruits, and vegetables ripening, and long afternoons. Here are a few ways to enjoy the day:
1. Make the most of the daylight
The best way to celebrate the longest day of the year is to enjoy all of it. Try rising early at dawn for some sunrise yoga, a nature walk, or some quiet time with a cup of coffee.
You can also live steam the sunrise at Stonehenge here. The sarsen stones, put up in at the centre of the site in about 2500 BC, were carefully aligned to line up with the movements of the sun.
2. Spend time in nature
Other than an early morning walk, consider eating a meal outside, seeking out local birdwatching spots, and visiting a nature preserve or botanical garden. If you’re a city dweller with limited options, look for an open air farmers market, or a shop within walking distance that sells fresh flowers.
3. Make sun tea
Sun tea is brewed by letting the tea steep slowly in the sun. To make a batch, soak 6-9 tea bags in a 4 liter glass jar for 3-5 hours, and refrigerator once it’s at the desired strength. Flavor with mint, lemon, or your preferred sweetener.
4. Build a fire
Bonfires are a staple of many pagan holidays. Enjoy one with a small group of family or friends, or quietly alone to meditate.
5. Write a gratitude list
Celebrating the Summer Solstice is about taking time to appreciate the abundance of harvest and the power of the sun, but also about internal abundance. Write a list of things you are grateful for, and then save it as a time capsule to open at the start of next year’s summer.