You may know that June 21 marks the official start of summer. You may know that first day of summer as the summer solstice: the longest day and shortest night of the year.
Since ancient times, we’ve celebrated the summer solstice as a chance to observe, reflect, and re-center ourselves and our communities before the days tip back toward winter. Around the world, festivities focus on love and fertility, a feast of summer bounty, and celebrations of life.
How to make the longest day of the year your most powerful yet
Here are some ways the summer solstice has been celebrated in different parts of the world and through the ages – and how you can translate those traditions into your modern life as you bring ancient spirits of holiness and positivity into your own summer solstice celebration.
1. Plan a Midsummer Feast
Across the planet and the ages, the summer solstice has been observed with feasting as the first fruits of the spring planting season ripen into a glorious summer bounty.
Nothing brings people together like breaking bread. Celebrate with a modern twist by planning a feast for your friends and loved ones. Go all-out with an elaborate, multi-course meal, or plan a simple potluck picnic.
Either way, be sure to bring the sun’s blessing to your table with traditional foods like round, sun-colored fruits such as citrus, peaches, and heirloom tomatoes. For some pagan flair, incorporate honey – sweet and golden as the summer sun – in teas, mead and baked goods.
2. Celebrate the Feminine
In ancient China, the summer solstice was seen as a time to celebrate the “yin,” or feminine energy, along with the earth. (The winter solstice is associated with “yang,” or masculine forces, and the heavens.)
Honor the spirit of female energy and re-center yourself in the feminine: bringing the goddesses for a powerful bonding experience that will ground you in feminine energy as you welcome in the summer. Plan a spa day or a retreat with your female friends, relatives or coworkers. Consider making art together, such as a traditional mandala made from natural elements, or exchange stories and songs.
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Some scholars theorize that Stonehenge, constructed in the Neolithic era, acted as an ancient ceremonial calendar and marker of the summer solstice. Just as our ancient ancestors may have observed the rising of the sun and the passage of the seasons from Stonehenge’s center, use the summer solstice as an opportunity to take measure of your own life.
Did you set New Year’s resolutions? Take advantage of this milestone to revisit them, and recommit to your own plans for the future. You can even go the extra mile and commit them to paper with a bullet journal. New to bullet journaling? Get started with a subscription like Cloth & Paper to seamlessly and powerfully navigate this turning point in the year.
4. Keep a Fire Burning
Fire is used to celebrate summer solstice rituals all over the world. Some French villages celebrate St. John’s Day on Midsummer’s Day (June 24) with celebrated with tall bonfires, echoes of the pre-Catholic pagan midsummer festivities. Similar festivals can be found in Germany, Greece, Latvia, Hungary and and other parts of the northern hemisphere, where celebrations include lighting and dancing around bonfires.
Celebrate love the modern way this summer by attending a wedding – or dip a toe in Finnish tradition to find a spouse of your own. According to Finnish folk magic tradition, the summer solstice was a night of powerful magic for young women seeking lovers.
Though some rituals, like maidens bending naked over a well to see their future husbands’ reflections, haven’t survived the tests of time, some have. Here’s one to try: collect seven different flowers and place them under your pillow. Legend has it, you’ll dream of your future husband.
6. Get in Touch With What Powers You
Like all major turning points in the calendar, the summer solstice provides an opportunity to reflect and get in touch with yourself as we observe the passage of time.
Go modern by setting the intention to purify and empower yourself with self-care. Or take an ancient-modern twist by recharging your life with crystals.
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