10 Ways You Can Celebrate the Summer Solstice
I drove from Virginia to Washington with a friend in June of 1993. To this day, I can remember standing at a payphone (yes, it was 1993) in the middle of Glacier National Park in Montana at ten o’clock at night and trying to describe to my parents the brightness in the sky. It was the summer solstice and the magic of the midsummer twilight was breathtaking.
Twenty years have gone by, I have children of my own, and there’s still something exciting to me about these long days of summer. The extended sunshine brings up sensorial memories of playing outside way after dinner and coming in when we could only see fireflies. I now watch my kids running through the yard as I’m cleaning off the dinner table and this special time of year excites me all over again.
Here are a few ways to celebrate this enchanting time of year:
Our lives are hectic. Between work, school, kids and everything it takes to keep things going, we forget to slow down. With technology literally constantly at our fingertips, we don’t turn off. My suggestion as we move into these lovely long days is to master the art of doing nothing. Sit still in the quiet evening. Relax in the setting sun. Discover renewal in yourself as nature shifts around you.
It goes without saying (at least it should), that we should spend as much time as we can outside on the longest day of the year. Nature has presented us with the wonderful opportunity, so we should take advantage of it.
- Go camping, if you can get away for a night or two
- Take the family on a hike on some nearby trails and check out the new growth
- Have a picnic dinner in a park and watch the sunset
- Or simply pull a few chairs out into the front lawn, turn on the sprinkler for your kids (or yourself!) and greet your neighbors
Assess Your Goals
Six months have gone by since we made New Year promises to ourselves. How are you doing with these? Take this time to reinvigorate the goals you still want to achieve and let go of the ones that have become a burden.
Don’t reserve your thankfulness for Thanksgiving. As you are reflecting during this seasonal transition, take note of everything you have to be grateful for: family, friendships, health, a stable job. And look forward toward a year of carrying this gratitude with you. Taking stock of the things you are truly grateful for can help you get through the difficult times.
My thumb is a very pale shade of green, but I do find great pride when I have planted something that flourishes. Get out into your yard and create a beautiful garden space. Find a small patch and plant flowers in your favorite palette. Or get an old pot or barrel and plant herbs and tomato plants.
Rethink Your Diet
Midsummer is the perfect time to think about the foods you’re consuming and how you’re treating your body. This time of year lends itself to amazing fruits and vegetables. My family can’t get enough of the cherries and strawberries that are in season now. Fresh produce not only improves your health, but it improves your cooking skills.
Heal What Ails You
As you take this time to sit with and surround yourself with nature, research alternative avenues to heal any physical problems you may have. Do you need more exercise? Start by taking a brisk evening walk. Locate some herbs that might help you sleep better or strengthen your immune system. As you think about your diet, include a few foods that could contribute to improving any ailments you have, more fresh organic veggies, fruits and nuts.
The days are longer and warmer, so what better time to renew or discover your talents? Paint the sunset. Make chimes out of old silverware. Pick up the ukulele and memorize those chords. Teach your kids some songs from your childhood. Bring out the buckets and tie-dye a few items for summer. Get dirty and colorful and excited about creating something from nothing.
Most of us don’t dance enough. There are several ritualistic dances that correspond with the summer solstice; Dance of the Sun, the maypole dance, the sacred circle. But you don’t know need to learn a new dance to celebrate the solstice. Find freedom in moving your body to the music you love, and let joy resonate as others join in. While you’re at it, open your arms to the sky and spin in the sunshine. You’re celebrating, after all.
Finally, June 21st is the perfect time to get together with friends and family and celebrate the season, the sun and the renewal of nature and friendships. Here are a few quick ideas for a fun, relaxing solstice party:
- Fill the kiddie pool with water and surround it with lawn chairs so everyone can dip their feet in while sipping on a light cocktail.
- Decorate only with fresh flowers in old vases and watering cans.
- Put lemon and cucumber slices in a water pitcher for your table for a special refresher.
- For dessert, puree watermelon in a blender and pour into plastic popsicle molds with a few pieces of fresh blueberries, strawberries or pineapple. They freeze up into a tasty and pretty treat.
- Be outside. Give thanks. And be joyful.
Please add your suggestions on celebrating Summer Solstice in the comments section below. Enjoy the midsummer sun and Happy Solstice!
Based in Seattle, Amy Gentry is a mother of three who works full-time for the Harlem Globetrotters. Amy’s free time is spent writing, testing new recipes, learning the ukulele and discovering new avenues for creativity. Her blog is Average Joe Mama.