Summer Solstice. Midsummer. Litha.
I’ve never really given much thought to June 21st before, beyond acknowledging the evenings will slowly be getting shorter after this date. But with my new way of life – as a mum & countryside dweller – comes a new way of thinking. There’s so much I’m curious about & I want to start discovering more to do with nature, the sun, moon, universe, all things I’d love to have my son grow up knowing about. It seems especially important to connect more with Mother Nature as the world becomes increasingly, inescapably digital. So I’ve done some research to uncover the basics of midsummer, some traditions & rituals, as well as some sun-inspired indie makes.
WHAT IS SUMMER SOLSTICE?
Summer solstice is, astronomically speaking, when the sun hits its northernmost point of the year & is furthest from the sun (not nearest, as you may imagine). Getting all technical & Latin here, ‘sol’ means sun & ‘sistere’ means ‘to come to a stop or stand still’ (ref
). The sun stands still at the Tropic of Cancer before moving south again. For us in the Northern hemisphere, it marks the first day of summer whilst the Southern hemisphere see it as the start of winter.
WHY IS SOLSTICE IMPORTANT?
The sun is literally responsible for all life & it seems only right to have a day to celebrate & give thanks for its warmth & light. It’s about taking a moment to reflect on the cycle of nature, appreciating where we are at this (more or less) mid-point of the year. With winter a way off, we can feel positive that the next few months will bring with them abundance, opportunities and positivity. So important is this day of the year that the remarkable Stonehenge was oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on this morning, hence its continuing destination for many pagan worshippers each year.
Such an ancient mark in the calendar was bound to have a plethora of traditions come with it & it’s been so fun discovering how it’s celebrated in so many different countries & cultures. Many people will of course travel to Stonehenge, as mentioned above, to see the sun rise on the solstice but all around the world, there are ways of honouring the sun. Just a few:
Sweden & other northern European countries celebrate Midsummer with bonfires, flowers & may poles. Swedish women traditionally pick seven different types of flowers & lay them under their pillows to dream of their future husbands.
Some Native American tribes hold ritual dances to honour the sun with the Sundance ceremony, a 4 day celebration of dancing, singing, meditation & prayer.
With its connection to the sun, fire has a strong link to the summer solstice, with many people lighting fires & candles on midsummers night. For those who truly observe Litha, a Solstice altar made up of flowers & anything else representing the signs of earth, fire, air & water is a mindful way of looking at the natural world around you.
SOLSTICE CELEBRATION SUGGESTIONS
- Wake up early & head outside to see the sunrise.
- Start the day with a sequence of sun salutations
- Get creative & use the sun’s rays to make a cyanotype. Also known as a sun or solar print, it involves creating a ‘blueprint’ using a few chemicals & the sun. Whilst you can create an image using any object, anything from the natural world – I’m thinking flowers & ferns – make sense for today. Here’s a cyanotype tutorial from Flow magazine.
- Plant some sunflowers – a lovely suggestion from The Smallest Light.
- Make a floral crown.
- Buy or pick a big bunch of flowers to bring colour and positivity into your home. Han Bullivant has some gorgeous suggestions on using florals to create a beautiful space.
- Have a dinner party outdoors. At night, you can light a bonfire or fire pit and spend time with the people you love, talking about the seasons gone & the seasons to come, perhaps making some new intentions for your summer. For ideas on how to style a beautiful table, head to Sisterhood’s blog.
- Why not paint the air with sparklers after the sun sets?
SUMMER SOLSTICE INDIE BUYS
Summer Aromatherapy Candle Duo Set | The Smallest Light | £25 |
Rising Sun Brooch | Leanh La | £13.50
Live by the Sun printable | Kiwi n Berries | £7.50
Blue Fern Cyanotype print | The Verdue | £27.54
Sun Linocut Print | Hannah Farthing | £20
Top 3 images | Unsplash
Floral fireplace | Hannah Bullivant