What is the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, is fast approaching. In the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice takes place between June 20th and 22nd each year.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the June solstice (aka summer solstice) occurs when the Sun reaches both its highest and northernmost points in the sky. It marks the start of summer in the northern half of the globe. (In contrast, the June solstice in the Southern Hemisphere is when the Sun is at its lowest point in the sky, marking the start of winter). This year it falls on Saturday, June 20 - when the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight. The sun will rise at 4.43am and set at 9.21pm.
Traditionally people celebrated renewal, life, the potential for a good harvest, inner and outer abundance, ascension, and the full return of the light of the sun on the summer solstice.
Today people around the world still celebrate the arrival of summer with outdoor feasts, singing, dancing, and bonfires.
The Summer Solstice in Sweden
In Sweden the summer solstice, or Midsummer as they call it, is about celebrating that the best time of year lies directly ahead. Celebrations begin on midsummer eve and carry on throughout the next day.
From the late Middle Ages, Swedes began raising and dancing around a midsummer pole. Decorating it with flowers and greenery that is called ‘maja’, so it is also known as a maypole.
Midsummer night was considered a time of magic and mystery when plants acquired healing powers and were used to predict the future. Young women would pick seven different kinds of flowers and put under their pillow to dream of their future husband and it was thought that walking barefoot in the dew as midsummer eve turned into the dawn of midsummer day helped you to stay healthy.
Today, people will still wear a wreath of flowers in their hair, an old symbol of both fertility and rebirth.
Summer Solstice Celebrations in the UK
In the UK, Stonehenge is the most famous UK landmark associated with the summer solstice. The ancient world heritage site was built 5,000 years ago and is a place of worship and celebrations. On the summer solstice, the sun rises behind the Heel Stone, the ancient entrance to the Stone Circle, and rays of sunlight are channelled into the centre of the monument. In 2019, it was estimated that 10,000 people were at Stonehenge to celebrate with other UK monuments including Glastonbury Tor in Somerset and the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire.
Due to Covid-19, mass celebrations such as these are not permitted this year but there are plenty of options should you still wish to celebrate at home.
Watch the sun rise on Stonehenge
If you’d like to watch the start of summer from Stonehenge from the comfort of your own home, you can tune into the livestream on the English Heritage Facebook Page.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Spend as much time as possible outside and connect with your environment. Stop to smell the flowers. Be still and listen to the birds. Observe what is around you.
Make a flower crown or wreath
Making and wearing a floral crown is tradition for summer solstice celebrations. If you haven’t made one before, there are a lot of tutorials and blogs out there that will take you through the process step-by-step. Here is one we found: How to make a flower crown with fresh flowers.
Do some gardening
The summer solstice has traditionally been a celebration of the summer harvest so it seems fitting to spend time in the garden, tending to plants you already have or planting new ones.
Fill your home with flowers or other summer touches
Welcome the light of summer back into your home. This might be with artwork, crafts, scented candles or seasonal flowers. It will be sure to brighten up your environment and serve as a reminder that the best time of year lies ahead (as the Swedes put it).
Have a summer solstice feast
This is a perfect opportunity to celebrate all of the amazing fruit and vegetables that are in season.
Make a bonfire
A bonfire is a traditional way to celebrate the summer solstice. Beat drums, sing songs and be merry! If you are a city dweller and can’t have one of these then light some candles or turn on some fairy lights to add ambiance to your celebrations.
Practice Yoga and / or meditate
Practicing meditation and yoga is a great way to release old energy, welcome the light, and create inner and outer abundance as a part of your summer solstice celebration.
Reflect on the last few months and set goals for the summer
We are nearly halfway through the year, a good time to reflect on the past few months and plan for those ahead. We have a lot of reflect on at the moment. Summer with its longer and brighter days is a good time to set new goals.