As this ancient and battered old earth travels through the vast wasteland of space, spinning along on its own axis, there are special days that humans living here find celebratory. Among them, the Summer Solstice, or more commonly, the first day of summer. Shakespeare felt strong enough about the matter he set it down on parchment as Midsummer, while in Wiccan mythology it might be celebrated as Litha.
June 21 is the day when we have the most sunlight, the period from official sunrise to official sunset. Everything must be official, of course. At Stonehenge and Avebury in Jolly Olde England, the stones line up properly, but it was the Druids that have been responsible for the economic value of the occasion. The Summer Solstice is celebrated in Druid life as the wedding of heaven and earth, and many feel because of that, it is lucky to be wed in June. Bless their pagan souls.
Ah, the pagans. The Midsummer moon is called the Honey Moon for a very good reason, or at the least, belief. Mead is fermented honey, and mead made under the Honey Moon was used at weddings during the --- your guessed it --- Summer Solstice.
Back to Stonehenge for a moment. It is expected that in excess of 20,000 people will descend on the ancient property and in the past there have been problems with destruction of property and “improper” behavior. There is no charge to be there during the solstice period, and they even have free parking.
The southern California community of Santa Barbara, not to be outdone by the pagans, mind you, has its own summer solstice celebration, which includes a parade and a Bollywod festival. And in New York City, you can enjoy a Paul Winter show at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine for just $35. The concert begins at 4:30 in the ayem, mind you, well before sunrise.
In Sweden, land of the Vikings, the celebration has to do with the land, as in agriculture, and is centered on hoping for the best harvest. Interestingly, Maypole dances are held. Maypole dancing in many parts of the world are centered on spring, new life, or as pagans believed, the Maypole was a phallus symbol, an impregnation of Mother Nature, and good harvests. It’s all mixed up in Sweden.
Since this is a phenomenon that is world wide, obviously, most beloved, there are celebrations from Slavs to Chinese. In fact, Li, the Chinese goddess of light, is honored during the solstice.
Well, enough of that. It’s a long day. Let’s party!!!