Sometimes called The Summer Solstice or Litha Midsummer is the celebration on the longest day of the year. If you are reading this the day it comes out well surprise, Midsummer is the 21st of June every year. It being the longest day of the year many call it the start to summer. Today we will talk about what Midsummer is, how is was celebrated, how it is celebrated today, and what you can do to celebrate this spoke on the wheel of the year.
Midsummer takes place once a year. It is the 3rd sun cycle festival and also the last festival before the harvest season. It does not however denote in the pagan calendar the beginning of summer. Beltane (May 1st) is on the pagan calendar the beginning of summer. Astrologically midsummer is the time of the year where the side of the Earth you are on tilts closest to the sun, making it so you have the longest day of the year. This is the day with the longest daylight hours. For any readers in the Southern Hemisphere, Midsummer is actually on December 21st, and Midwinter is June 21st.
What should you call this holiday? Some people choose to call it Midsummer, Germanic pagans tend to call the holiday Litha, the Gaelic and Celtic Druids call it Alban Hefin, and your more spiritual than religious aunt likely just calls it the solstice. All of these are correct. Even as a Druid I personally call it Midsummer because if I told people today was Alban Hefin they would look at me with 3 heads, and Midsummer is a good middle ground between the Gaelic name and the more modern term of Summer Solstice. The interesting thing about this holiday is it is one of the only ones without a similar christian holiday nearby.
This holiday was reportedly celebrated by many ancient peoples. It should be noted however it was not as big of a deal as some of the other holidays on the wheel. Most of the evidence we have for the holiday being celebrated comes not from books, but rather architecture. The most famous example of this is the fact that on the solstice the light from the sunrise goes through the main pillar at Stone-hedge. There is also evidence of a festival occurring this time of the year. It should be noted however that all holidays on the wheel should actually be week long periods, because the festivals for each holiday were based on natural occurrences that may fluctuate.
Today most people celebrate the solstice by welcoming and celebrating summer. This may mean going to the beach, gardening, going for a walk in the woods, cooking food outside, or any other summer fun activity. While it is not a fire festival like the cross quarter days, there are few things that say summer more than lighting stuff on fire and sitting around with friends. More ritualistic practices tend to occur at one of two times; either sunrise, or when the solstice actually occurs each year which is a specific time (if you are reading this you missed it). Many pagan festivals happen on the summer solstice as well, famously Druids in England are allowed to actually hold ritual at Stone-Hedge on that day. Also I remember as a kid growing up in Massachusetts we would always have June 21st as our “if we have less than 5 snow days” last day of school.
So if you are reading this on the solstice, joyful Midwinter to you. Get outside enjoy the Summer, find a way to welcome to spirits of summer into your life and house, and just have fun. This is a festival celebrating the joys of summer and being outside so go do that.
As always hope you enjoyed reading,
Go With The Winds.
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