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Humans have understood the power of the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere, for millennia. Some of humanity’s most noteworthy monuments — Stonehenge, Chichen Itza, the Temple of Karnak — make obvious our long-held fascination with this auspicious day. However, too many of us have lost touch with the intensely spiritual event that takes place every year in June. This year, you should honor the summer solstice with a proper celebration.
Learn Cultural Traditions
The summer solstice has always been of supreme importance. Plenty of cultures placed legendary significance on the sun’s longest journey from east to west. If you have a strong connection with your heritage or you would like to celebrate the solstice in the manner of your ancestors, you can learn more about historical celebrations here:
- Ancient Greeks. The Greeks began their year on the summer solstice. Celebrating the agriculture god, Cronus, the festival of Kronia saw strict cultural rules reversed: Society became egalitarian, with slaves enjoying freedom to be merry for the day.
- Ancient Romans. Romans paid tribute to Vestia, the goddess of the hearth, in the days leading up to the solstice. Typically, women celebrated Vestalia most fervently, baking cakes and cleaning her temples.
- Ancient Chinese. The Chinese, too, celebrated the female spirit of “yin” around the summer solstice.
- Ancient Germans. To commemorate the light of the sun, European pagan tribes would light bonfires — a tradition that is still enjoyed around modern Eastern Europe.
- Vikings. Midsummer was a day for administrative matters among the Vikings, who used the holiday to sort out important legal matters and resolve disputes.
- Native Americans. Different tribes had different traditions, but many Native American groups developed distinct sun dances which were performed during sunrise and sunset on the solstice.
Organize Your Own Celebration
Your solstice celebration can be as simple or complex as you desire. You can model your festivities from established traditions, or you can create an entirely new practice based on your own beliefs. The goal is to honor the sun and the earth and enjoy the life you have. If you are still unsure how you should celebrate the summer solstice, you can consult your spiritual advisor or follow in the footsteps of other modern solstice observers.
Many midsummer revelers choose to create a sacred space in which they will celebrate the day. Like most landmarks that commemorate the solstice, your sacred space should align with the sun’s ascent and descent on June 21. There should be an avenue for the sunlight to travel down into the heart of your celebration location, where you will welcome its arrival.
You may also want to prepare a salutation for the sun on this auspicious day. As previously noted, different cultures acknowledge the sun’s arrival in a variety of ways: dances, chants, sacrifices, and more. You should use whatever creative talent you have to develop a greeting for the sun during the morning of solstice. You can even research traditional mantras that suit your cultural leanings; for example, the Guyatri Mantra is often called the mantra of the sun, and thus it is fitting for the summer solstice:
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yonah prachodayat.