night fire

We’re now at the Summer Solstice.

It’s the longest day of the year for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the one day throughout the year in which there is the most daylight and the least amount of darkness. “Sol” means “sun” and “stice” means “to stand still,” so Summer Solstice literally means “Sun Standing Still.”

Some areas of the world do not receive all of this bright light and instead navigate through darkness. While the North Pole receives 24 hours of daylight on the Summer Solstice, the South Pole gets 0 hours.

Those all over the world celebrate the Solstice in different ways.

In Spain, people bring in the summer with the Sant Joan festival. Celebrations include the building of thousands of bonfires, dancing, fireworks, and music. Many people believe that by jumping over the bonfires, they will be cleansed and purified, thus eliminating problems in their lives.

At the pre-historic site of Stonehenge, in England, thousands gather to welcome the sunrise of the Summer Solstice. They spend the many hours the night before drumming, singing, praying, chanting and spending time with friends and loved ones.

Solstice is called Jaanipäev in Estonia, which is cause for huge celebrations throughout the entire country. This date marks a change in the farming year, specifically the break between the completion of spring sowing and the hard work of summer hay-making. It is one of the most significant holidays of the entire year and always includes a bonfire, which is said to frighten away mischievous spirits.

Traditionally, young people would jump over the flames of the bonfires to bring in good luck. Females would also float flower wreaths lit with candles down rivers to gain foresight into their futures. Men attempt to capture the wreaths - hoping to capture the heart of the woman who floated it.

The Druids, an ancient religion and culture, celebrate the Pagan Festival of Litha. This is the celebration of the wedding of Heaven and Earth (this is one of the reasons why there are so many weddings at this time).

For many, the Summer Solstice has a certain type of spiritual significance. It also marks the beginning of one season and the start of another; the time of growth and fertility; a time of bringing hearts together. It is a time to celebrate and offer gratitude, and honor the incredible power of the sun. Will you be celebrating the Solstice this year?

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About The Author

Nikki Pava's picture

Nikki Pava is the author of Green Wisdom: A Guide for Anyone to Start, Engage and Energize a Sustainability Team. She is also the founder of Alegria Partners, a consulting firm that specializes in sustainability engagement initiatives for mission-driven companies.

Prior to her work at Alegria Partners, Nikki founded EcoTuesday, a national networking forum that facilitated vital connections and essential change in the business community. EcoTuesday hosted more than 300 events in 12 cities across the country and brought together hundreds of sustainability professionals, making a positive impact in each city.

Nikki holds an MBA in sustainable management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. She lives in an eco-community in Costa Rica and is currently writing a book about teams in businesses that focus on reaching their company’s climate change goals.

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