This Saturday, June 21, is the longest day of the year, also known as the Summer Solstice. It’s a day that is rich in tradition, meaning and sunshine. It’s been celebrated for hundreds of years in countries around the world.
We think the best way to honor the solstice is to get outdoors, so here are a few ways to make the most of your extra sunlight.
Get out picking: Long ago, it was believed flowers and herbs picked on the Summer Solstice carried extra special healing powers. If you don’t have a backyard full of flowers and herbs, see if there is a “u-pick” farm in your area. Not only is it a great way to get out in nature and enjoy the longest day of the year, but who knows—maybe those flowers really will heal your woes. Find a farm near you at pickyourown.org. Not only are there flower farms, but many of these give you the opportunity to pick your own fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cook a Summer Solstice meal: The key to cooking a perfect summer solstice meal is lots of fruits, vegetables and herbs, and minimal cooking. The whole point of the Solstice is to be outdoors, not cooped up behind a hot stove. Spend your morning picking up fresh produce at your local Farmer’s Market and enjoy a casual dinner (you’ve got plenty of hours of sunshine so there’s no rush). Your menu can include gazpacho, avocado salad, grilled chicken and strawberry ice cream.
Celebrate the Scandinavian way: Nowhere is Summer Solstice (or Midsummer as they call it) celebrated more vigorously than in Scandinavia. Decorate your house with wreaths and flower garlands and cook some traditional foods like potatoes and herring. A Scandinavian celebration wouldn’t be complete without a dance around the Maypole. Follow these directions to create your own.
Have a bonfire: Bonfires have historically been a part of many Summer Solstice celebrations. They were thought to ward off evil spirits like fairies, which are said to come out on Midsummer’s Eve. Serve trail mix in mason jars, provide all the fixings for s’mores, and a stack of blankets guests can curl up in when the sun finally goes down.
Attend an outdoor yoga session: What better way to honor the sun then with an outdoor yoga sessions? Sun salutation poses are typically done in the morning to greet the day. Some cities and yoga centers may host outdoor yoga classes for Summer Solstice but if not, have your own session. Go to a park, the beach or incorporate yoga poses into a hike. What could be a better way to salute the sun than from the top of a mountain?
Go for a swim: Taking a dip in a river and swimming towards the sun is thought to heal and protect on Summer Solstice. But if there are no rivers around, heading to the pool could do the trick. By now, community pools should be open for the summer, a great low-cost outing. You can also search for local parks with water features, which are becoming more and more popular.
Before you shop: Summer Solstice is really like New Year’s Eve part two. The sun is at its peak as we enter into the second half of the year. Take this time to reassess your goals and set some new ones.