Monday marks the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere – also known as Litha, the Pagan Midsummer festival in the Celtic Wheel of the Year. It’s officially the longest day of the year and shortest night as well as the year’s mid-point as the Earth is tilted closest to the sun. It marks the beginning of astronomical Summer, and certainly feels like a fresh start to me – as well as the marker for so much seasonal goodness to come. Here are five ways that I’ll be celebrating – I hope you join me too.
Time to Grow:
Ancient Celts called Litha ‘Alban Hefin’, the Light of Summer, and performed rituals to celebrate the growing season & guarantee a good harvest. I’m going to sow some pea seeds to harvest as pea shoots in a few weeks’ time, and I’m tending my pink windowsill strawberries. Here’s hoping they survive to tell the tale!
The Celts celebrated many of the festivals in the Wheel of the Year with bonfires and fires, symbolising the interplay between light and dark. It’s a wee bit warm to light the stove now, so I’ll be lighting lots of candles. You could even have a beach bonfire, or maybe you’re lucky enough to have a garden with a fire pit to gather around. The Celts would leap over the fire for luck – the higher you jumped, the higher your crops would grow!
Make a Midsummer Feast:
Feasting was common among the Celts at this time of year and it’s easy to see why. This is the start of Summer’s harvests, with Summerfruit arriving seemingly all at once, and vegetables and grains plentiful. I aim to eat outside as much as possible in the coming weeks. Everything tastes better outside! At this time of year I crave light, fresh fare and so I’ll be making mezze plates and seasonal nibbles for sharing.
The Celts would also celebrate with the other sort of gathering. Foraging was essential at this time, especially herbs, which Druids were said to forage for their magical properties. Elderflower is pretty magical to me, and I’ll be foraging for elderflower to replenish my cordial and elderflower champagne stocks in the larder for the Summer months to come. More elderflower ideas soon, and in the meantime you can find my champagne recipe here .
In Scandinavia, it’s a well-documented Midsummer tradition to forage for wildflowers and make flower crowns to wear for the seasonal celebrations. Make a base from florist’s wire and, similarly to making a wreath, you want to make miniature posies and attach them individually to create a more delicate finish that will last. Secure with wire and remember more is more when it comes to Midsummer!
Do you celebrate the Summer Solstice?