June 21 is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and the first day of summer. The Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, and if this event happens on a Friday or Saturday, there’s no excuse not to party. People have been doing it for centuries.
But it’s not all about the sun. From Europe to Scandanavia, summer festivals are times to rejoice. Cultures around the world use this time to honor the fertility of Mother Earth and the sun that nourishes it. Ancient Chinese held ceremonies to celebrate the earth and life’s feminine “yin” forces. In Ancient Rome, the summer holiday was dedicated to Vesta, goddess of the heath. The Greeks chose Vesta’s counterpart, Hestia.
Surely, we can do something on June 21st to remind ourselves that Femininity, divine and otherwise, is fabulous.
Some people associate summer solstice events now and back in the day with pagan religions. There’s actually some truth to that. Me, I don’t believe acknowledging the change of a season and feminine influences of life is going to send me to Hell or wherever.
If you think like me, what kind of celebration do you want?
To share the solstice joy with other people and the noise that comes with them, call some friends and get the music playing. Maybe the party’s at your house, or a community festival. Bars and restaurants work, too.
If you prefer to mark the day alone with solemnity, you’re following a long line of tradition. Any attention given to the summer solstice is about growth and the circle of life. Corny, but true. Sun shines, insects return, crops thrive, we live.
Among Native American tribes, for example, the Sioux held a spectacular ritual during the June solstice. Before special dances were performed, a tree was carefully selected, cut and raised to symbolize the link between the heavens and Earth.
The Internet can help in creating your own ritual and activities, including the herbs and aromas thought to be meaningful at this time. By simply being aware of this major solar event, it’s more difficult to ignore the natural rhythm of the seasons. The solstice invites every woman to go inside herself to see what needs renewal, and what can be done to get it going.