Monday, June 17, 2013

Summer Solstice/Midsummer

     The Fire Festival, the longest day of the year, another ancient tradition stretching back to neolithic times, and is shared by cultures all over the world. Fertility rituals and bonfires abound across the globe on this sacred day.
     Celebrations occur between June 21st and 25th depending on the culture. In some places it is one of the most celebrated holidays of the year next to the Winter Solstice/Yule, which occurs in the southern hemisphere as the northern has summer solstice, and vice verse.
Also called Litha, a word that can be traced to the Anglo-Saxon name for the month of June. A Sabbath in the wheel of the year, one of the many celebrated by today's growing Wicca community. Golden flowered midsummer plants like Calendula and St. Johns Wart were celebrated for their healing powers and are picked on this night. Many people gather yearly at Stonehenge for this occasion.
     Vikings visit wells thought to have healing powers.
     Greeks celebrated Cronus the god of agriculture. 
     For the Egyptians, this coincides with the raising of the Nile. Festivals in honor of Isis and Osiris celebrate abundance and fertility. 
     In Latvia they jump over the bonfires, (a commonality seen in many different cultural festivals). There are many traditions as to what one should do here regarding good harvest, attracting a spouse, and predicting the future. People make wreaths of birch and oak for the celebrations. For the women, wreaths of flowers and the men, wreaths of Oak. Since the year 2000, in the western town Kuldiga, part of the Midsummer Latvian festival of Ligo, they mark the day by running through the street nude!
     In Poland wreaths are very popular also, and young maidens cast them into the Baltic sea, lakes or rivers.
     In Lisbon it is custom to celebrate multiple marriages. These marriages could be well into the hundreds
     In some areas an important feature is the midnight sun which is an occurrence during this time of the year. 
The Midnight sun is a natural phenomena that occurs at the Earths most southern and northern regions.
 Most accessible to view in the Arctic circle, in places like, the United states (Alaska) Canada (Yukon, Northwest territories, and Nunavut), Russia, Sweden, Denmark (Greenland) Finland and extremities of Iceland.  
     Norwegians celebrate this day by lighting bonfires along the coast. They would keep the fire burning through out the few hours of darkness so the legendary trolls could not return from the stones were they had been trapped.
These are just a few of the cultures that hold festivals honoring these ancient traditions.There are countless others.What traditions are held in your part of our wondrous world ?