Summer solstice celebrations have been taking place for thousands of years. Traditionally, people celebrated the return of light, life, fertility, and the potential for a good harvest on the longest day of the year.
More recently, people have been celebrating the arrival of summer with outdoor feasts, bonfires, and lots of singing and dancing. Some people also use the summer solstice as a way to restart their lives, letting go of what no longer serves them, while opening themselves up to meaningful change. So, whether you’re looking for a reset, or simply some fun ways to celebrate the summer solstice this year, we’ve got you covered.
What Is The Summer Solstice?
A summer solstice is the moment in time when the earth’s tilt toward the sun is at its maximum and the sun reaches its highest position in the sky.
The term ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because the sun will reach its highest point at noon on that day and appear not to move for a short period of time.
Summer solstices aren’t just limited to earth either as all the planets in the solar system have summer solstices.
When Does The June Solstice Take Place This Year?
The summer solstice occurs twice each year, once in June in the Northern Hemisphere and once in December in the Southern Hemisphere. The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere occurs every year between June 20th and June 22nd.
While the June solstice occurs at the same moment in time all over the world, the date and local time may differ from location to location depending on a location’s time zone. This year, the June solstice, which marks the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere (and winter in the Southern Hemisphere), will take place on Monday, June 21st at 3:32 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), or on Sunday, June 20th at 11:32 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). If you’d like to find the time of the June solstice where you live, you can translate UTC to your time zone.
Different latitudes also get different amounts of sunlight on the solstice. For example, the longest day of the year at the equator lasts for around 12 hours, while the longest day of the year at the North Pole lasts for 24 hours. In fact, all locations inside the Arctic Circle experience a continuous period of daylight for 24 hours. And if you live in southern Texas you’ll get a little less than 14 hours of daylight, but if you live in Washington or Maine, you’ll get almost 16 hours of daylight.
11 Ways To Celebrate The June Solstice
Throughout the centuries, the summer solstice has been celebrated with festivals, rituals, and Midsummer celebrations. The summer solstice has also been associated with femininity and fertility, and ancient cultures would celebrate femininity and fertility with feasts and bonfires. So, you can definitely include feasts and bonfires as part of your summer solstice celebration this year. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the different ways that you can celebrate the summer solstice either alone, or with your loved ones, in 2021.
Start Your Day With A Sun Salutation: International Yoga Day falls on the same day as the summer solstice. So, wake up and do a sun salutation, which is a series of yoga poses that provide a great overall body stretch. There are also a number of in-person and/or virtual yoga events that you can take part in, such as Solstice in Times Square, which takes place on Sunday, June 20th this year. This free event is intended to help people find calm once again within the chaos of life in New York City on the summer solstice. Both experienced yogis and first-timers can take part in one of seven socially-distanced, limited capacity classes in-person, or join the class virtually by livestreaming one of the sessions throughout the day.
Use The Solstice As A Restart: If things haven’t been going quite the way that you’ve wanted of late, use the solstice as a way to wipe your slate clean and give yourself a fresh start. Write down any behaviors or experiences that you want to put behind you on a piece of paper and then bury that paper (or burn it).
Set New Goals And Intentions: After you bury (or burn) the stuff that you want to leave behind, it’s time to set some new goals and intentions for yourself. So, think of some news goals, as well as the ways that you’ll be able to accomplish those goals. Then write down some intentions, or things, ideas, or habits that you’d like to bring into your life. You can also write affirmations, which you can then say every day in order to help you achieve your new goals. As you work toward becoming the best version of yourself, remember to be kind to yourself along the way. The journey is about progress, not perfection.
Create A Summer Thrill List With Your Family: Life is more fun when we have adventures to look forward to, right? So, take some time to develop a summer thrill list (or bucket list) with your family on the first day of summer. This will make summer more exciting not just for you, but also your entire family. And, of course, make sure that everyone in your family is given an opportunity to add something to the thrill list.
Build (Or Attend) A Bonfire: Building (or attending) a bonfire is a recurring feature in almost all summer solstice celebrations. That’s because it’s believed that the fire deters evil spirits who roam freely as the sun turns south. Jumping over the bonfire (which we do not recommend) is a popular tradition in places like Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, and Spain. Estonians also believe that not lighting a fire invites fire into the home, causing devastation. And in the United States, an annual Midsummer solstice celebration is held on Casper Mountain in Wyoming. The majority of the community, and even some people from around the world, attend this event to partake in the bonfire. Then during the bonfire, people are invited to throw a handful of red soil into the fire in hopes that they will get their wish fulfilled. You can also build your own solstice bonfire and invite your nearest and dearest over to celebrate the solstice with you. Then you can sing, play music, and dance around your huge bonfire, and roast marshmallows, too.
Make A Flower Crown: In Finnish folklore, there’s a story about a young woman who collected seven flowers under her pillow on Midsummer night, which resulted in her future fiancé showing up in her dreams. Today, women pick flowers and craft their own flower crowns, wearing them throughout the Midsummer celebration. To make your own flower crown, you’ll need floral wire, floral tape, wire cutters, greenery/foliage, and flowers of your choice.
Start A Garden (Or Add To Your Existing Garden): Since the summer solstice is traditionally a time to celebrate the potential for a good harvest, why not take advantage of the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and finally start that garden that you’ve been planning on bringing to life in your backyard? If you already have a garden, plant some new flowers, vegetables, or fruits.
Throw A Summer Solstice Party: Instead of just enjoying the solstice on your own, or only with your immediate family, throw a summer solstice party. This will allow you and your family to spend some quality time outdoors with the people you love most on the planet. After all, what’s better than good company and good food? Not much.
Visit Stonehenge (Or Watch The Live Stream): Ancient cultures knew that the sun’s path across the sky, the length of daylight, and the location of the sunrise and sunset all shifted in a regular way throughout the year. In fact, it’s believed that they built monuments like Stonehenge in England to follow the sun’s yearly progress. Now, tourists go to the ancient site, which is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, to witness the sunrise right through the center stone during the summer solstice. If you won’t be able to make it to Stonehenge this year, you can still join in on the festivities thanks to a live stream, which will allow you to see the sunset and sunrise at Stonehenge from the comfort of your own home.
Watch (Or Play) Midnight Sports: Since 1906, the summer solstice has been celebrated in Alaska with a midnight baseball game that starts at 10:30 p.m. and goes into the next morning. And in Iceland, there are some people who play a round of golf at midnight.
Reset Your Body Clock: Midsummer is a great time to focus on improving your health and happiness by getting better sleep in the summer. Since light is the number one factor in regulating your body clock, make sure to get some sunshine while you can during the day, and also do your best to keep light out when it’s time for you to go to bed. Making use of the extra hours of sunlight during Midsummer is an excellent way to get started with your new sleep schedule.