6 Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice on June 20th is the longest day of the year. It's also referred to as "midsummer" even though it is the first day of summer and the end of spring. But living in the middle of a cold prairie province means that, for me, I just planted my garden, the cottage was just opened a few weeks ago, and my white skin is just starting to get a glow. It hardly feels like "midsummer" everywhere in the northern hemisphere, even though some places have been enjoying blistering heat for months already! The solstice is also an indicator that the hottest months are ahead. So why not reign in this natural occurrence with a little celebration, the way previous traditions did?

Since the days following the summer solstice begin to shorten, the solstice was traditionally a time to celebrate the sun. The word solstice loosely translates to “sun stand still,” and its influence has always been extremely important to agricultural societies. This day was a special time to gather and celebrate, and honour the sun shining in the sky, allowing food and crops to grow and offer us sustenance. Singing and dancing around a bonfire was the most common tradition associated with the solstice in earlier times. Many countries still honour the custom.

I get together with a few friends every solstice and equinox. It’s been a really interesting way to stay in touch with the natural occurrences of our planet, and I'm always surprised how changes of season often bring a lot of internal shifts as well. On the winter solstice, we ate comfort foods and shared things that we needed to let go of. In spring, we did a plant swap and talked about budding ideas for the new year. Now, the summer solstice is almost here. So, a fire and possibly an in-season flower swap is on the agenda.

If you’re hoping to find a way to celebrate the summer solstice, here are some old and new ways to do it:

1. Have a bonfire

Hilltop bonfires seemed to be one of the most popular ways for ancient Celts to celebrate and it’s still a very common tradition all around the world. In some European countries, it’s an extremely significant outdoor celebration; dancing, singing, and huge bonfires being the central excitement of the event. 

Solstice idea: Gather your closest friends, set out a moody midsummer playlist, and keep a bonfire going until the sun dips below the horizon. Nosh on some in-season ingredients, and request themed attire!

2. Get yourself some flowers

Celebrating summer is a perfect excuse to buy yourself some flowers and have the smell of fresh blooms in your home. Who doesn't enjoy a fresh little bouq on her dining table? If you've got blooms in your yard, try snipping a few to build your own arrangement.

Solstice idea: Hunt down some ribbon, floral wire and floral tape, and snip or purchase some of your favourite in-season blooms to make your own flower crown, corsage or necklace. Maybe you can wear it to your themed bonfire celebration!

3. Light a candle

Summer solstice celebrations don't need to be loud, and they don't need to be bustling with tons of bodies. If you’re not feeling like a wild outdoor party, opt for something more low-key and celebrate the fire of the sun by lighting some candles around your house.

Solstice idea: Light some candles and have a seat to think about some things you’re grateful for or things you’re hoping for the rest of the year. Hold a piece of sunstone, and throw on “Here Comes The Sun” for an especially on point solitary solstice night.

4. Two words: Sun. Piñata. 

If you're celebrating with little ones (or if you're a kid at heart), DIY a sun piñata to create a memorable summer celebration that your littles look back on fondly, or even look forward to each year.

Solstice idea: Fill a piñata with yellow ribbons, gold coins (of the chocolate variety, perhaps?), and yellow flowers and break it with your kids, or your best friends. Cause, who can turn down sunshine-themed games that remind you of childhood birthday parties? Bonus points if you use foraged sticks from the yard to bang on the piñata.

5. Forage

Midsummer means blooming gardens! Spend some time walking around and foraging whatever you can get your hands on (and isn’t on your neighbour’s lawn). Make a bouquet, hang them to dry, or cleanse your home with the smell of summer by burning the fragrant pickings.

Solstice idea: Gather some friends and spend the solstice evening wildcrafting and foraging together. You can also pick things from your own garden, and exchange your harvest with friends. Someone always has an abundance of tomatoes!

6. Get outside

Okay, but seriously: get outside on the longest day of the year! Go on a walk at lunch, spend the evening at a park, sit in your backyard. Whatever works for you! Soak up some sun. And hey, maybe you’ll get a festive tan/sunburn to boot.

Solstice idea: Dinner can be really special on the solstice. Set out some evening lights, make a light, in-season meal with crisp salads and fresh juices, and dine slowly beneath the setting sun. You can go formal and invite guests over to chill on the deck, or you can have a romantic evening picnic for two.