Eliane Midsummer Night 2008

Global warming has our attention. The entire world is learning to respect our sun´s strengths and cherish it´s gifts with newfound appreciation on a daily basis. As we rethink how we live our lives in attempt to preserve our favorite star, I suggest we use Summer Solstice, or  Midsummer Night, to reflect upon the personal commitments we have made to benefit our world. Are you recycling as much as you could? Do you walk or bike when you should? Have you adjusted your thermostate to save energy? Is there a light on right now that should be off?

Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still.” As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky. Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December. The date is not etched in stone from year to year because of calendar fluctuation and different cultural traditions. And the longest sun filled day of the year is not the hottest because it takes weeks for the heat from the sun to travel to earth. This is why July and August yield hotter days.

Many traditions have evolved over the years from celebrating this wonderful summer evening. The event is celebrated on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures.  Many still dance around maypoles with wreaths of flowers on their heads. Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids’ celebration of the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”, resulting in the present day belief of a “lucky” wedding in June. In addition, this night was once thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To scare them away, Pagans wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called ‘chase-devil’, which is known today as St. John’s Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer. The joyous power of our sun, however, has been proven to be the most effective mood stabilizer.

Today, Midsummer Festivals serve mainly as a good excuse to party, especially if the weather is favorable. In the northern hemisphere, it’s light around the clock that day, and the focus is on being outside and enjoying the sun and nature. This year, use this major celestial event for more than an excuse to party. Make a wreath of flowers to wear proudly on your head, gather with friends and family around a bonfire with good food and drink, and ponder the list of good things you do for our environment. Then commit to doing more.