4 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
4 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice
You don’t need to be a pagan to appreciate the longer days of summer.
June 21st is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and marks the summer solstice, when the sun is at its northern most position directly above the Tropic of Cancer. It is at this point that the sun seemingly stands still, only to begin traveling south again as it ushers in winter. After the summer solstice daylight begins to recede, leaving each day a bit darker than the day that came before.
Agricultural societies throughout history have celebrated the summer solstice as being a time of brightness and warmth. These celebrations centered on honoring the existence of the sun sustaining them and their crops and after the long months of winter. Crops are growing, sustained by the light of the sun and the earth is fertile and blooming.
Reconnect with the rhythms of the natural world and summer season by:
Go for a hike, discover a new vista, take your beach cruiser for a spin; gaze at the stars, catch fireflies; plant a garden; take your yoga practice outside. Run, bike, walk, swim… whatever you choose to do, take it out of the gym and onto trails or the beach.
Saluting the Sun
Surya Namaskara, or Sun Salutation is a common component of most yoga classes. The exact origins of Surya Namaskara are unknown and often debated, but the importance of the sun to yogic tradition, myth, and spirituality is readily apparent.
Perform your Sun Salutations outside in the morning, facing the east. The traditional number of Sun Salutations used to mark the change to warmer seasons is 108—an auspicious number in Hinduism and yoga. No need to do 108, though. Start with one or build up to nine or any other multiple of 108.
Allow your body to be open, powerful, & energetic like the sun. As you lift your face towards the sky for your first breath in, notice the warmth of the sun on your face, finding a sense of gratefulness for this and every day. Be light and playful in your practice. Listen to the sounds of nature around you as you flow through each of the postures that make up your Sun Salutations or create a playlist whose energy matches that of the sun.
Playing with Fire
Nothing says summer like the hot and the fiery sun. Celebrate the fire element of the sun by making a bonfire on a beach or in your backyard and hanging out with friends. Just be sure to follow local ordinances and fire safety laws. Traditional summer solstice celebrations incorporated fire due to its association with the sun, as well as its symbolic association with passion, creativity, creation, rebirth, renewal, action, and clarity.
Not enough foresight to have a fire pit in your backyard or to live next to a beach? Light some candles, invest in some tiki torches to illuminate your outdoor space, or burn some incense with warm notes of spice.
And, those same friends that you were going to invite to a bonfire party at your yet to be built fire pit? Don’t cancel. Invite them over for a barbecue, instead. Add some sriracha, hot sauce, chilis, and other piquant flavors to the food you’ll be serving. This will ignite your taste buds and further honor the fire element that is the basis for celebrating this day.
Once your friends leave, take hold of your special someone and make sparks fly. The celebration of the summer solstice was traditionally a fertility ritual and a way to honor the fruitfulness and fecundity of the gods, which coincides with the abundance and ripening of nature.
The Romans celebrated the summer solstice as being sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of fertility. Other cultures throughout history have celebrated the summer solstice as a time for courting, conception, the coupling of the masculine and feminine, and the fusion of the heavens and earth.
Connect intimately with someone you love. Granted love isn’t always a prerequisite for sex. However since this is a day celebrating fertility, generation, and virility, it’s perhaps best to choose someone you wouldn’t mind being fertile with… just in case.