Summer Solstice – It is a time when pagan, druids, Christians, and many other religions celebrate the longest day of the year. In Latin, Soltice is derived from sol – meaning sun – and sistere – which means to stand still, hence the longest day of the year. For modern pagans, the Summer Solstice is a spiritual holiday, celebrating the marriage of heaven and earth. In the United States, Summer Solstice takes place on June 21 each year, which also marks the first day of summer.
In the United Kingdom, Summer Solstice is not seen as the beginning of summer, but rather as midsummer. In Celtic folklore, midsummer is the time when fairies and other mystical beings come out of hiding to dance and join in the celebrations. The famous bard himself – William Shakespeare – dramatized this legend in his play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.
I was listening to my favorite classical radio station yesterday – June 21 – when I was delighted to hear Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, narrated by none other than British actress Dame Judi Dench (M from the James Bond films). This version of the story is probably my absolute favorite rendition. There’s nothing like hearing Shakespeare spoken by a true Shakespearean actress!
Celebrating Summer Solstice usually involves bonfires, music, dancing, and, many times, large festivals where people stay up all night to welcome the rise of the sun. One of the most famous festivals takes place at Stonehenge in England. I’ve been to Stonehenge and it is a very unique place, full of mystery and beauty. During the week of Summer Solstice, people travel from all over the world to Stonehenge for many believe it is a sacred place, grounded in druid religion, but shrouded in Arthurian legend.
Although my husband and I are not pagans, each year, we try to celebrate the Summer Solstice in our own way, whether it’s taking a nighttime walk together or having dinner outside on the deck listening to classical music. This year, we combined many of these things by going to an outdoor concert, complete with dining under the sun followed by dancing under the stars.
It truly was a beautiful evening, but our attempt to stay out into the wee hours of the morning fell short. We ended our celebration just before 9:30 PM, much to my husband’s disappointment, and headed home. Even after leaving the celebration early, I still did not get to sleep until after 11 PM, which made for a very early morning, considering I had to be up at 5:45 AM to be at work at 7:30 AM.
Hence, no run, no yoga, and no yummy breakfast picture to show you, just a lot of dark circles under my eyes. Maybe next year, we’ll plan a little better!
Happy Summer Solstice everyone!