The Summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year, and is usually celebrated around June 20th. Cultures from around the world have celebrated the Solstice, and many of the celebrations predate written text. Below are some of the ways that people around the world have recognized and celebrated the Summer Solstice.
Many Native American tribes celebrated the Summer Solstice in some regard. Several Native American tribes celebrate the new season of summer, and recognize the sun as a manifestation or iteration of the Great Spirit. As a part of their recognition of the sun, many tribes would perform a Sundance – a dance that would last for days, and challenge young men in the tribe to prove their stamina by dancing for days on end without food. The Sundance was typically performed around a sacred tree, which is considered to be a connection between the earth and the heavens. The overall celebration was marked with singing, dancing, drumming, and deep prayer. The Sundance is widely practiced, but each tribe has their specific rituals and prayers, the content of which is largely unknown in print. This is because most tribes see it as a sacred ceremony, and they are hesitant to describe it in great detail.
For ancient Greeks, the Summer Solstice began a one-month countdown to the opening of the original Olympic games. The month before the ancient Olympics was full of a variety of festivals honoring different Greek gods and goddesses. One such celebration is the Kronia – a festival in honor of the god Cronus (Kronos). During the Kronia, the ruling class would celebrate alongside slaves and working class alike. The Kronia was a time to celebrate life, and a celebration of the harvest.
In some parts of China, June 21st can have around 17 hours of daylight. China has celebrated the Summer Solstice for thousands of years, and most celebrations honor femininity, the earth, and the force known as yin. Some celebrations would feature couples jumping flaming hoops to help predict how the harvest would turnout.
In Greece, some still participate in the Prometheia festival – a celebration which honors the Greek Titan Prometheus, and his creation of Man from clay. It also celebrates his theft of fire for human use – an act which (according to Greek myth) helped man progress and grow into modern civilization. The Prometheia festival happens on June 21st, and people from across the globe flock to mount Olympus to celebrate. The celebration includes an exchange of ideas, opinions, and ideals. It is considered to be an intellectual time of growth and renewal.
How do You Renew?
The Summer Solstice often circles back to renewal, and growth – spiritually, physically, and mentally. It is a time to relax, and celebrate the first half of the year, while focusing on renewing yourself for the challenges and rewards of the second half.
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