The summer solstice is the longest day of the year because, on that day, the area angled toward the sun receives the longest duration of the Sun’s light. The moment of the Solstice, is at the peak of the angle. In the Northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice occurs in June and in the Southern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice occurs in December. See the chart below for exact dates for upcoming years.
|Year||Northern Hemisphere||Southern Hemisphere|
|2016||June 20 @ 22:34 UT||December 21 @ 10:44 UT|
|2017||June 21 @ 04:24 UT||December 21 @ 16:28 UT|
|2018||June 21 @ 10:07 UT||December 21 @ 22:23 UT|
|2019||June 21 @ 15:54 UT||December 22 @ 04:19 UT|
|2020||June 20 @ 21:44 UT||December 21 @ 10:02 UT|
Summer Solstice Traditions
The Summer Solstice has many traditions associated with it. It is the day when the sun’s energy is the strongest felt. In the polar regions, the sun remains in the sky for several days straight. Certainly anyone who honors a Sun God will find significance in this, as would those who rely upon the sun’s light for their living.
Plants Many who gather herbs for healing or magick believe that certain herbs are best gathered on the day of the Summer Solstice, particularly at dawn. Some will argue that this is true for nearly all herbs, but specific herbs are often mentioned. These include St. John’s Wort, Fennel, rue, rosemary, rose, lemon verbena, mallows, laburnum, foxglove, elder flowers, and ferns. Traditional decorations for this day include branches of birch and oak as well as bouquets and garlands of flowers and ferns and celebrants might wear wreathes of leaves and/or flowers in their hair.
Water Well dressing is another tradition associated with the Summer Solstice. Gazing at your reflection in water during the Summer Solstice may allow you to see the image of your future lover. Sea side and riverside fertility rites and bonfire festivals are also popular on this day.
Fire The Summer Solstice is often celebrated with bonfires, and of course, BBQs.
Dancing Many traditions incorporate dancing, including Square Dancing and dancing around the Midsummer Pole (just like the May Pole)
Weddings Many traditional dances and rituals that celebrate the Summer Solstice include mock weddings and this is also a popular time for the real thing as well as for divination and spells related to marriage. In some traditions, a God and Goddess get married on the Summer Solstice, while others believe that this took place at Beltane and a respectful period of time has now taken place so that it wouldn’t be rude to upstage them with a wedding of your own. Another tradition holds that if you took part in some of the lustier traditions of Beltane, that it might be time for a wedding of the more shotgun sort. But weddings have long symbolized fertility and the continuation of life and the festivals of the Summer Solstice are certainly fertility festivals. (Also, the Month of June is named for the Roman Goddess of Marriage, Juno.)
The Summer Solstice has long been seen as a reason to celebrate among many cultures. Midsummer, Midsummer Day or Feast of Midsummer is a modern name for the Summer Solstice festival used by many Pagan groups as well as secular and all-path organizations. However, there are many other festivals celebrated on our around this day. The following festivals are related to the Summer Solstice.
Feast of Epona (Ancient Gual)
Kronia (Ancient Greece)
St. John’s Eve (Catholic)
Alban Hefin (European Neo-Druidry)
Drăgaica or Sânziene (Romania)
Kresna noč (Slovenia)
Day of Private Reflection (Northern Ireland)
St Ivan’s Day (Hungary)
Guru Purnima (India)
Juhannus or Ukon juhla (Finland)