Tis the Season To Celebrate the Sun
Summertime is the season best known for its sunshine. Sun worshipers around the globe celebrate the June Solstice, the longest day of the year. However, some traditions welcome summer earlier than mid-June. For example, May Day and Memorial Day are considered the unofficial start of summer.
May Day is an ancient European festival that begins summer with woven floral garlands and wildflower gatherings. This celebration is on the first day of the month, about halfway between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice.
Many Americans wait until the end of May to declare the unofficial summer season has begun. Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, is set aside to remember the passing of soldiers in service. Instead, the holiday became a three-day weekend of capitalization and holiday tourism.
This is also the time when many nations observe daylight savings time. Fortunately, after a long winter, the extra daytime hour feels like summer has already started. Additionally, in most countries, school-aged youth are given a vacation from classwork, giving them the freedom to be children. People celebrate this season by doing outdoor activities with friends and families.
Perhaps the most commonly recognized celebration surrounding this season is the Summer/June Solstice. Traditionally, Midsummer was a pagan celebration of fertility and light defeating darkness. Participants would wear protective garlands made with herbs and flowers to ward off the evil spirits they believed would appear on the solstice. They lit bonfires, danced, and feasted all night until embers remained. Then they would jump over the coals and make wishes for the upcoming months. According to Babbel, a current event is the Secret Solstice Midnight Sun Music Festival is a three-day celebration in Iceland.
Season of Sun Celebrations
Guatemalans follow the Ancient Mayans' solstice traditions. They celebrate at the Mayan ruins of Tikal by performing spiritual rituals at sunrise and sunset, highlighting the architectural aspects of the temples' construction, which showcases the solstice light.
Reader's Digest reports that ancient Lithuanians considered dew drops as a sacred manifestation. They believed the dew drops held mystical divining properties on the morning of Summer Solstice. As part of the Rasa or Joninės/Rasos tradition, Lithuanians searched the forest for a blooming fern to make wreaths. According to the nation's Department of Tourism, one of the best places in Lithuania to celebrate this season's solstice is the State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė.
Located in the United Kingdom's Shetland Islands, the northernmost Scottish isle, Unst boasts nearly 19 hours of daylight on the Summer Solstice. For more than 35 years, according to Reader's Digest, hundreds of motorcyclists have gathered for a Simmer Dim rally that includes local spirits, food, games, and music where the sunrise and sunset are considered particularly scenic.
Alaskans celebrate the Summer Solstice amid the midnight sun. While the solstice is the longest day of the year, between mid-June and mid-July, there is a sunshine tsunami from Anchorage to the Arctic Ocean. In Fairbanks, the Midnight Sun Festival has become one of the biggest street fairs in the state.
Celebrating Closer to Home
Wherever a person calls home, celebrating the sun is a wonderful way to connect with nature and appreciate the energy it provides. Suggestions include planning outdoor activities like biking, hiking, picnicking, or swimming. Even walking can help a person feel more connected to the sun's warmth and brightness.
Remember to take safety precautions such as applying sunscreen, wearing appropriate clothing, and staying hydrated.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware