On Friday, June 21, the northern hemisphere will officially welcome the first day of summer, which is known as the summer solstice or Litha in nature-based faiths. Not only is this day one of the main sabbats in Paganism, it's also the longest day of the year, when the sun will reach its northernmost point in the sky. And no matter how you define your spirituality, extra sunshine is always worth celebrating.
Traditionally, Litha festivals lasted all day, in a nod to the sun's extended stay, and people would gather at Stonehenge to see the sun shine through a certain point in the structure. To this day, Stonehenge still holds a yearly solstice event that's open to the public. Other nature-based celebrations throughout history, including ceremonies performed by Native American tribes and ancient Chinese solstice festivals, have also paid tribute to the sun and its life-bringing properties.
Luckily, for those of us who won't have time for an entire fire festival this Friday, there are a few smaller ways to honor the changing of the seasons. Ahead, learn how you can celebrate the summer solstice in your everyday life — and how you can take advantage of that extra sunlight.
The summer solstice is spiritually significant in many different faiths. Whatever your beliefs, take a moment to meditate on the history and meaning of this day. That could mean a prayer, a ritual, or even a Bible reading. Or you may prefer to simply spend some time reflecting in silence.
As is the case with just about every Pagan sabbat, you can celebrate the summer solstice by simply enjoying the great outdoors. Check out your local park, take a hike, tend your garden, or go to the beach. And since you'll have extra daylight to burn through, nothing's stopping you from taking the longer trail — preferably one that takes you out of cell service.
This form of celebration is meant remind you of the power of nature: You're surrounded by life and growth wherever you go. If you don't usually take the time to notice it, this Thursday is the perfect day to start.
After romping about in the great outdoors, take some of that energy back to your indoor living space: Plant seasonal blooms or veggies that will flourish in the sunshine. Don't have a green thumb or backyard of your own? Hit up your nearest farmer's market or florist for some locally grown goodness that will look great on your kitchen counter (or altar). Whenever the seasons change, it can be spiritually satisfying to make slight changes in your home that reflect those larger shifts.
You can spend the day strolling through nature in solitude, but the summer solstice is also a great opportunity to hang out with friends and celebrate all together. Group meals held around the winter solstice symbolize the historical need to come together to survive the colder months, while getting together this Thursday can reflect the harmony that people feel with nature at this time of year — especially if you opt for a picnic or barbecue and feature seasonal foods in your dishes.
Okay, maybe don't literally play with it, but the summer solstice has long been associated with the sun, and, in turn, fire. Traditional celebrations in nature-based faiths usually featured bonfires and fire magic, which were intended to symbolize the warmth and power of the sun.
If you can't make it to the beach for a bonfire of your own, you can still honor the solstice's ruling element. Light candles as the sun starts to set or, as we suggested earlier, cook your meals on the grill.
This day is supercharged with sunshine and activity — and as thrilling as that may be for some, it can also be a little overwhelming. If your to-do list is already longer than your arm, don't worry about taking on additional plans for the solstice (hiking and grilling included). Instead, use this day to get your affairs in order and even perform a grounding ritual if you find that helpful: Spend time with your crystal collection, catch up on your reading, or just journal about what's been going on in your life lately. Allowing yourself to take a moment to reflect and make mental priorities before a new season can be incredibly refreshing.
This tip isn't derived from anything deeply spiritual, but having sex to ring in the summer months actually checks quite a few summer solstice celebration boxes: You'll embrace the day's playful energy, and you'll definitely put those extra hours of daylight to good use.