Celebrating the Summer Solstice

June 21st marks the first day of summer and a religious holiday for modern Pagans. Is it a coincidence that many secular festivities coincide with the longest day of the year? Is the solstice simply an excuse to party, or are we responding to a deeper primordial urge to celebrate? A sampling of solstice celebration, sacred and profane.

Solstice at Stonehenge
The axis of Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England is aligned with the sunrise at the summer solstice, and Druids and other Pagans have gathered here at different points in history to celebrate the longest day of the year. Because of clashes with police in the 1980s, ceremonies were banned until 2001, when 14,500 people descended peacefully upon the ancient site.

LINK: Learn more about Alban Hefin, the Celtic solstice.

Pagan Parents
"My kids and I will be outside if at all possible, and I will make a fire, we will dance, and of course make smores! my children make pictures they feel are appropriate with chalk on our patio. and we usually hug the trees, and give them an offering (compost)..."
--Beliefnet member lunacrone


Coney Island Mermaid Parade
"The start of the summer in Brooklyn always brings the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, Brooklyn's own version of Mardi Gras featuring classic cars, dancing neptunes and mermaids and a whole lot of good clean debauchery!"

The Feast of St. John the Baptist (Catholic)
Solstice festivities in Europe were "Christianized" when the Church set June 24th as a holy day celebrating the birth of St. John the Baptist. Jesus referred to John as "A burning and shining light" and so traditional pagan customs of lighting bonfires were easily appropriated for the Christian holiday.

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