Summer Solstice

What is the summer solstice?

The summer solstice, or midsummer, is typically celebrated around June 21st and is when the earth is at maximum tilt toward the sun and the days were the longest. Although we may consider it “midsummer”, for many peoples this is considered the start of summer. This time of the year was the busiest for people in the higher latitudes. This is when days are longest and the weather is warm. At this time, the people of northern Europe were working diligently to grow enough food to last the year and through the winter.

How did early pagans celebrate the Summer Solstice?

Many Pagans, farmers, in particular, would offer a blót to Freyja and Freyr, as fertility gods, Thor for bringing the rains and harvest, and Sif because her golden hair was symbolic of fields of grain for harvest. This would be the focus of their celebrations. Early pagans celebrated the Summer Solstice by lighting bonfires and dancing around them. The fires were to ward off dark forces that were to come with the waning daylight. This time was the changing point between days getting longer and days getting shorter. Some people saw that as the tipping point between the forces of light and dark, or the death of the god of Light, Baldur. From winter solstice until now, the light, and good is winning the battle, but at the point of midsummer, the darkness begins to win and the day length starts to get shorter. Many saw this as a natural cycle of the earth and knew that the light would once again return. Often love and sex would make an appearance during these celebrations, including marriage (handfasting) ceremonies.

How can modern pagans celebrate midsummer?

You can use this time to meditate on the light and darkness in your life and hold onto the feelings that light brings. Gather with loved ones to celebrate around a bonfire (large or small) and tell stories of your year. Decorate your homes and spaces with flowers and greenery. Consider planting some form of crop, flower, etc in honor of the gods that are fundamental to this time, even if it is only grown for sacrifice back to nature.

One major takeaway about this celebration is that there really is no wrong way to go about this. Pagan practice is just that, practice. There are no hard and fast rules to this lifestyle. We don’t have a bible, but we do have each other and a beautiful earth to honor and respect. Gather with other pagans, even if they follow a different pantheon of gods, and have different practices, and cultures. One thing we all have in common is that we all serve the earth in whatever way our gods direct.

Go on, Celebrate, and Be Happy!