June 21 is the date of the 2019 Summer Solstice, or the first day of summer according to the astronomical calendar. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is the day with the most hours of sunlight in the year. Historically, this day has been celebrated as the beginning of the summer season as well as the harvest. As such, it is celebrated among many cultures in a variety of ways. Looking for something fun to do for the Solstice? Check out these 10 activities for the longest day of the year.
Traditions of the Solstice
The Summer Solstice is the day that the sun is at both its highest and northernmost points in the sky for the Northern Hemisphere. The word “solstice” comes from Latin solstitium—from sol (Sun) and stitium (standing) because of the way the sun seems to stand still at this highest point for much of the day. What this means is more daylight hours, and many people use this as an excuse to celebrate with parties, festivals, and other activities.
The solstice is linked to fertility, and many cultures consider this the ideal day to fall in love or meet a soulmate. In China, the solstice is a celebration of femininity and yin in contrast to the winter solstice, which focuses on masculinity and yang forces. Likewise, parts of Europe celebrated the Feast of Epona, the goddess of fertility. Native American tribes viewed the solstice as a time to celebrate and revere the sun with festivals and rituals. Ancient Romans celebrated a festival to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and protector of married women and virginity.
For decades, people from all over the world have gathered at Stonehenge at Summer Solstice to witness and be part of an age-old ritual. At dawn, the central Altar stone aligns with the Slaughter stone, Heel stone and the rising sun to the northeast. This event includes week-long festivals and tours of the historic site.
10 Activities for the Longest Day of the Year
As a celebration of the longest day, it makes sense to spend some time outdoors soaking in some sun. Plan a picnic, hiking excursion, a day at the lake, or just an afternoon basking in the sun or enjoying a garden. Better yet, plan a weekend campout to unplug and reconnect with nature.
Host or Attend a Bonfire
Celebrate the season of fire by inviting some friends for a Solstice bonfire. Be sure to plan for yummy snacks and foods to celebrate summertime. Check out this cool s’more maker!
Visit a Local Farm or Farmer’s Market
Acknowledge the gifts of the harvest by exploring a local market. Bring home some fresh organic produce for a summer salad.
As with many other astrological days, energetically, the Solstice is an ideal time to review your goals. Spend time reflecting on your plans and set your intentions to focus your mind and spirit on being the best version of yourself. You may also choose to create a Sankalpa for yourself. This is a sacred intention. No matter how far away your dream may seem, remember it all starts with a simple seed. Check out this journal, perfect for recording your dreams and intentions.
Practice Yoga or Meditation
The Summer Solstice is also International Yoga Day. The word yoga comes from Sanskrit and means to join or to unite, symbolizing the union of body and consciousness. Yoga combines physical, mental, and spiritual aspects to practice meditation and transform the body and mind. What better day to get out and practice sun salutations?
Have a Seasonal Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of some signs of summer, gather the kids, and head to a nature preserve, park, or even the backyard. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Bee visiting a flower
- Wildflowers in bloom
- Baby animals
- Birds chirping
- Lightning bugs
- Spider in a web
- Butterfly on a flower
- Berries growing
- Seedling plant sprouting
- Fish in a pond
Eat Some Strawberries
The June full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon because it often signals the peak time to harvest this fruit. Create a recipe with strawberries or just eat them fresh. You could try using strawberries in one of my most popular recipes, Blueberry Bake or make some delicious and healthy Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream!
Have a Sunset Feast
Invite over a few close friends and enjoy some food and fellowship outdoors. Be sure to gather together on a blanket to watch the sunset at the conclusion of the longest day.
Get up early and spend some time focusing your thoughts on gratitude. Then find a local shelter, food bank, trash clean up, or other organization and volunteer your time. Serving others is one of the greatest ways to show appreciation and give back.
What are your plans for the Summer Solstice?
Comment below and share your ideas!