Aaah, the dog days of summer… The sun is getting warmer and brighter, the days are getting longer, but not as long as they will be on June 21st, which will be the Summer Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. This day, which marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year, falls between June 20th and June 22nd every year. After June 21st, the days will progressively get shorter and shorter until the Winter Solstice on December 21st, which marks the longest night of the year.
The solstice has been celebrated around the world since ancient times. Each culture had its own rites and traditions, but all of them centered around the sun and its association with fertility, renewal, and light. It’s impossible to talk about the Summer Solstice without mentioning Stonehenge, but it was also celebrated in Ancient Egypt, by the Incas, among Native American tribes and even in Ancient China. In modern times, a lot of these celebrations were abandoned following the propagation of Christianity, but it’s still celebrated in Paganism and Wiccan religions as well as in certain parts of the world, such as Eastern and Northern Europe.
For many, it’s an occasion to drink abundantly and party with friends. However, the summer solstice is also a great time to reconnect with your roots and celebrate the spirit of the holiday as a family. It is, after all, the first official day of summer and the perfect occasion to set the tone for the rest of the season. Here are some family-friendly ways to celebrate the arrival of summertime and the longest day of the year!
Make a flower crown
This is the most colorful, and bountiful, time of the year. Our gardens are in full bloom, and so are the fields and even the roadsides. Incidentally, flower crowns are a significant part of Summer solstice celebrations around the world. In Poland, unmarried young women would float flower crowns down the rivers while young men tried to catch them on the other side. In Scandinavia, they are a traditional ornament in many celebrations. Keep the tradition alive by collecting wildflowers (it is the perfect occasion for a nature outing after all) and make your own.
Organize a summer feast
Farm stands, farmers markets, and your own vegetable patch are probably overflowing with the first fresh fruits and veggies of the season. Celebrate the abundance by inviting your nearest and dearest to an epic summer feast under the stars. Place a table outside decorated with fresh flowers, candles, and fairy lights. Illuminate the scene with solar garden stakes and colorful lanterns for a whimsical feel in tune with the celebration. Select dishes that incorporate seasonal ingredients – those summer salads are so refreshing after a long day in the sun –preferably locally sourced. It is the perfect occasion to visit local farms and maybe pick your own produce if possible.
Plan an epic bonfire
Keep the party going late into the evening to celebrate the shortest night of the year. Bonfires are another tradition that are incorporated in many Summer solstice celebrations around the world, particularly in Northern and Central Europe. In Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Russia, young men jump over the bonfire as a demonstration of their bravery and strength. Although there is no need to do the same, gathering around a bonfire is one of our favorite ways to spend a summer night. If you have little children running around, you may want to opt for a firepit rather than an open fire. Invite your guests to join you for a night of dancing and revelry under the stars for a celebration they won’t forget.
Set resolutions as a family for the summer and the rest of the year
The summer solstice is a time of renewal, and so is the end of the school year. It’s an occasion to set up some new rules and objectives, not only for the season but also for the months to come. From simple resolutions, like spending a set amount of time outdoors, learning a new skill, or starting a family gratitude journal, to a seasonal bucket list, there are plenty of milestones to accomplish to help each family member become healthier and happier.
Spend some time outdoors
Summer is the best time of the year to spend outdoors; there is no doubt about it. What better way to spend the summer solstice than out under the sun, and stars? Organize a scavenger hunt that is sure to keep the children engaged, have a picnic, visit a farm, or just get some respite from the sun at your local beach: your solstice celebration doesn’t need to be complicated or require special preparations for you to really enjoy the beauty of the season ahead!