Though this year’s calendar says June 21st is the first day of summer, the longest day of the year might more appropriately be known as the middle of the summer season. The sun is at its height and the days have been increasing in length, only to climax at the longest day and shortest night during the Summer Solstice. Twilight and dawn stretch out longer than any other time of the year, but after this week, the nighttime and darkness will slowly creep back upon the day.
Celebrated from June 19-June 24, the exact date of this holiday changes depending on the position of the earth to the sun. Midsummer, also known as Litha, marks the Summer Solstice and a time of great warmth, fertility and energy. Scandinavian and Northern European countries still celebrate this holiday that can trace its roots back to ancient celebrations of fire and abundance. In some places it is almost as popular as Christmas, which sits exactly opposite of this day on the calendar.
Medieval Christianity celebrated the birth of Saint John the Baptist on this day, and huge Saint John’s fires are still a major part of European celebrations, and often enjoyed by Neo-Pagans and other new age groups around the world. A good way to observe the fire and heat of this holiday is to light your own balefire, or even a bright red candle. Others capture the spark of the longest day of the year with a delicious barbeque, which is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors, nature and heat.
For those who are familiar with Shakespeare, Midsummer is also said to be a wonderful night to enjoy the charms of the fairies. The magic of a summer night is something we all remember from our childhood. When enjoying the cool air, the moon, fireflies and the scent of flowers and fresh grass, remember the pleasure of summer.
As a holiday, Midsummer recaptures the magic and joy of youthfulness. Re-read your favorite fairytales, watch your favorite version of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, go out and catch glowbugs or butterflies, or find a fountain and make a wish! Fill the longest day of the year with all of the things you love, and those games that make you feel like a kid again.
The summer is a special time of year, even for those who are well past their youth and fully engrossed in their 9-5 schedule. The sun is at its full power this week, so think of the sun to give your projects a little spark. Have lunch outside or take a short walk, no matter how hot it is. Summertime is in full swing, so enjoy the beauty of your neighborhood and community while the flowers and trees are thriving. Buy local produce and engage in town beautification projects. Take some time out for the kids in your life, and make a point to dance with the fairies. This is a good time of year to push your boundaries and step outside of your comfort zone, but also to return to those things that inspired us when we were children.