The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, with a long history of traditions and celebrations. Here, we’ll share our tips on how to celebrate the summer solstice on your own.
by James Han
As the longest day (and shortest night) of the year, the summer solstice, or midsummer, has historically been a day of celebration for cultures around the world, with feasts, bonfires, picnics and songs. Though countless mythologies and traditions have commemorated the summer solstice for spiritual, agricultural or even political reasons, you can celebrate it with your own rituals at home with as much intention and meaning as you’d like.
Ultimately, the summer solstice is a day of abundant sunlight and marks a tipping point for the rest of the year, which is itself a great reason to step back, pause and connect more deeply with yourself.
Here, we’ll share the history of summer solstice rituals around the world and give you a few practical tips on how to celebrate the summer solstice mindfully on your own.
What Is the Summer Solstice?
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because during the summer solstice the sun appears to linger at its highest point in the sky at midday. Astronomically speaking, midsummer marks the first day of summer. Afterward, the sun will stop moving northward in the sky and begin to track southward as the days grow shorter and summer transitions into autumn. This year, midsummer will take place on Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 8:32 p.m. (Pacific Standard Time).
Summer Solstice Rituals Around the World
Many cultures around the world have acknowledged the importance of the summer solstice with their own rituals and celebrations. In India, many people continue to celebrate midsummer by holding mass yoga sessions and praying to the sun for happiness, love and forgiveness. (It’s even said that the first yoga, Adiyogi, met his disciple during the summer solstice.)
The ancient Greeks, who used midsummer to mark the start of the new year, held Kronia, a festival to celebrate Cronius, the god of agriculture. During Kronia, social codes were abandoned and all members of society — including enslaved people — were allowed to join in the merriment as equals. Ancient Egyptians constructed the Great Pyramids so that the midsummer sun would set exactly between two of the pyramids when viewed from the Sphinx.
In America, several Native American tribes practiced their own solstice rituals. The Sioux, for example, performed an annual sun dance.
How To Celebrate the Summer Solstice
The summer solstice is a wonderful opportunity to bask in summer’s rays and reflect on the first half of the year. Think of it as a mini “rebirth” where you can revisit the intentions you set in January and experience a renewed energy and sense of purpose for the months ahead. Here are six summer solstice rituals you can practice to celebrate the day.
1. Get Out in the Sun
Take advantage of the brightest Sunday of the year by heading outdoors and soaking in the sun. While activities like hiking can be a great way to get your blood flowing and help you tap into the revitalizing energy of midsummer, don’t forget to slow down with an afternoon sunbath meditation or yoga sequence on the grass or sand. As you close your eyes, pay attention to the warmth of the sun on your body. What sensations are you experiencing? Where on your body are you feeling the most heat? Focus on your breath, and imagine drawing in the cleansing, powerful energy of fire with each inhale and letting go of the things that are no longer serving you with each exhale.
2. Reflect on Your Intentions for the Year
Whether you’re at a park or sitting in a sunny patch of your home, take a moment to reflect on the first half of the year. Check in on the intentions you set in January (if you didn’t, that’s okay!). If a few of your original goals fell by the wayside, ask yourself why. Did you get busy at work? Have you been struggling to find better balance? Remember, this is a time to be forgiving and understanding toward yourself and make room for new intentions, boundaries and visions. You can jot down your realizations in a journal or even channel them into meditation art to hang on your wall and serve as a daily reminder.
Want to learn more about how to set intentions and unlock a more balanced life? Check out our guide on how to focus on yourself.
3. Bring Nature Into Your Home
Midsummer signifies life and growth and is often symbolized by flowers such as daisies, honeysuckle and sunflowers. If you can’t spend as much time as you’d like outdoors (or if you simply want to bring the energy of nature back home), you can turn your counters into little altars of seasonal flowers you find at your local farmers market or florist. Now’s also a good time to grab that snake plant or rubber fig you’ve been eyeing at the plant store to suffuse every corner of your home with green.
4. Light a Bonfire
Though untamed fires can be destructive, they’re also a regenerative force that can enrich the land and clear the way for new growth. Lighting a bonfire with your friends is a time-honored way to acknowledge the power of fire, and can help you carry the energy of the day even after the sun has set. If you’d like, you can write down all the things you want to let go of on small scraps of paper and release them into the flames. As you watch them burn, imagine yourself feeling lighter and more open. If you can’t set up a bonfire in your backyard or on the beach, lighting a candle at home — or several — is more than enough.
5. Eat Fresh Vegetables, Fruits and Herbs
Making a feast with fresh produce is a great way to nourish yourself with the bounty of summer. If you have access to a farmers market, consider getting a colorful array of seasonal vegetables, fruits and herbs. To make the day special, try experimenting with new recipes or flavor combinations in a variety of forms: fresh, zingy salads; grilled vegetables; baked fruit tarts and more.
6. Get Into the Right Mindset With Essential Oils and CBD
As you get started on your day, get into a calm and peaceful state of mind by taking The Root of It All’s SLOW, a tincture that contains pure Ayurvedic essential oils such as sweet fennel, basil and orange and is amplified with the relaxing properties of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). A single dropperful of this botanical-rich tincture can help you slow down, relax and sink into all the plans you have for the summer solstice.
Interested in learning how you can create more rituals in your life? Check out our guide: How To Use a Full Moon Ritual To Invite Mind-Body Balance Into Your Life.
James Han is a writer, editor and content strategist based in Los Angeles. When he’s not deep in a Google Doc, you can find him reading, watching films and taking long walks.
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