Today is the Summer Solstice (on Sat 20th June, at 22.43 pm, in Ireland, to be exact).
You’re gonna see a load of inane ‘Solstice Blessings!’ stuff that’s all well and good like, but I happen to know some of ye are also a little confused about the whys and hows of this Pagan Holiday.
So here’s a quick and easy post to clarify the basics.
What is actually happening?
Today, the Earth’s pole in the Northern Hemisphere has its maximum tilt toward the Sun – that’s where we’ll be at 10.43 pm in Ireland… tipping point.
(In the Southern Hemisphere, this tilt happens in December, and vice versa for the Winter Solstice.)
So, the Summer Solstice is when the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, which is the day with the longest period of light.
The Summer Solstice is not always on the 21st!
Depending on various factors, the Summer Solstice can happen anytime on the 20th, 21st, or 22nd of June in the Northern Hemisphere each year.
I seem to remember this used to be given as the period between 19th and 21st, back when I was a baby Pagan, but I guess everything has gotten a little off kilter and wibbly wobbly timey wimey these days?!
It often happens that a solstice will fall on the 21st, but it’s not a definite date by any means.
What are we actually marking?
Again, to be clear – this year the 20th June is the longest day.
The night of 20th/21st is the shortest night.
Personally, I celebrate the longest day at Midsummer, so Saturday is the ‘real’ Pagan Holiday or Festival time for me.
This makes sense to me as I am honouring the strongest light at this time of the year, and however that looks in your tradition or practice is grand.
For context, in December at the Winter Solstice, I am honouring the deepest dark, so I hold vigil through the longest night.
How do we Celebrate the Summer Solstice?
Of course, this is going to look different for everyone.
I have some general Irish Pagan Holidays Info Here.
The specific significance given to the Summer Solstice widely varies in many ways between cultures, but I’d say the general themes you can see are around fertility, sunshine, strength, and light.
I definitely make sure I’m outside enjoying the longest evening, til the sun sets at least.
We light a fire whenever possible, have a family or community gathering around it when we can, maybe a few drinks and some food, and a good laugh.
At sunset, I thank the sun for it’s continuing power and glory, but acknowledge the shift that is also happening – a shift from the light season towards the coming dark.
And it can be as simple as that!
Whether you celebrate with a group around a bonfire, or by yourself beside a tiny tealight flame: just acknowledge, honour and respect the light’s strength through the longest day, while keeping an eye to the inevitable gathering of darkness’ depth.
I hope that’s been helpful to you… Solstice Blessings! 😉