6 Ways to Celebrate The Solstice

by Alexa Salvato

Today is the summer solstice, the longest stretch of daylight all year for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. Regardless of if you’re a practicing pagan or just pumped about the start of summer, the solstice is the perfect day to celebrate warmth, transition, and renewal.

Shout out to 8th grade earth science for teaching me why we have seasons! 

Summer solstice has a long and rich history; it’s one of the oldest holidays, since people were basically always keeping track of the sun’s movements. Pagans call it Lith or Litha, and it’s been historically called Midsummer. Midsummer is a time rife for magic in literature too; Shakespeare set his fairy-filled A Midsummer Night’s Dream in that time for good reason.

Some ways to celebrate:

1. Hold a Midsummer Night’s Fire Ritual

Because of the solstice’s obvious focus on the sun, fire (from candles to bonfires) is often central to the celebration. Fires are also traditionally known to drive out evil from an area and protect it, which is an added bonus.

2. Celebrate St. John’s Eve

St. John’s Eve, on June 23, is tied to solstice as well. It’s a Christian celebration of Saint John, sometimes called the “summer Christmas” because it’s just a half-year away from Christ’s own supposed birth. Yet it’s also the prime day to practice voodoo; in New Orleans, it is the day to honor voodoo queen Marie Laveau. There are cleansing rituals down in NOLA, but if you can’t make it, you can try one in your own home, too.

Please don’t pray to this scary baby-sun. 

3. Pray to the Sun

Where would we be without the sun? Dead. Praying to the sun is a great way to give it a special shout-out this weekend. You can incorporate whatever other deities you honor, too.

4. Bring in the Good

A lovely mentor of mine used to practice Wicca, but has since stopped practicing most of her rituals. There are a few she maintains, and last year she taught me one where you write down three words or phrases on slips of paper of things that you want to bring into your life—from “joy” and “community” to more idiosyncratic terms. Anything is game. You then burn those slips in a candle or fire on the eve of the solstice. This ritual can help manifest those concepts into your own life.

5. Use Beach Magic

I bring this playful Hairpin piece about beach witches into daily conversation way too often, but I can’t write a list of summer celebrations without bringing some beach-based Wicca into play. This site conveniently lists a few ways to use beach magic this coming weekend.

6. Spend Time Outside 

Just spending some downtime in the beautiful sunshine (or absolute downpour, as it’s looking in my area) ushers in the summer just as well as anything else.

Images via Jan Davey Ellis, freegreatimages.com, & Teletubbies

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