Summer is officially here and it’s not just school-age kids who love its arrival. The summer solstice has been celebrated as a holiday for over 2000 years. It is the longest day of the year and was/is the source of many festivals worldwide. For the language geeks reading the blog, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally means, “sun stands still.” It was such a popular event that whomever built Stonehenge oriented the stones to highlight the rising sun on the morning of the summer solstice.
Early Christian monks recorded how the Celts celebrated the solstice or midsummer, by lighting huge bonfires on hills and dancing all night – sounds like spring break! Later when the Saxon’s arrived on the British Isles, they continued the Celtic tradition. Even the Vikings adopted (or the Celts adopted the Viking tradition – there is controversy) the practice.
Earlier, Romans celebrated the event as a feast to the goddess Juno, the wife of Jupiter, who was the goddess of women and childbirth. They named the month, June, in her honor. Juno was also the patron of marriage, which explains why many early weddings were in June. Even earlier was the celebration by Zoroastrians of the midsummer day, which celebrates the power of sun and fire. Those two were obviously very important to early societies.
This day has been special for millennia, for myriad reasons. So whatever makes it special for you, take time to appreciate the extra sunlight and get outside. I’ll be barbecuing something tasty this weekend and enjoying the extra sunlight with a fermented beverage. Happy solstice to you all!