The summer solstice will soon arrive.
Sol for sun. Sistere, to stand still. That moment when the sun reaches its farthest northern point above the celestial equator, when we tundra dwellers experience the longest duration of daylight all year.
And yet, we do not officially celebrate!
There is a winter carnival in Minnesota and all sorts of cold-weather merrymaking. But what of summer? That brief season of porch sitting and barbeque grilling, when the longjohns come off and the boats get launched.
The solstice is the pinnacle. From here on out, the days get shorter. We march toward the inevitable return of winter. We should be making a much bigger deal out of the first day of summer.
It’s been done. Sort of. June has a historically been a preferred month for weddings. It’s also the peak of honey flow for beekeepers. I once read that gifts of honey used to be given to newlyweds. That the June moon was referred to as a honey moon from which the name of that special time together immediately following a wedding is said to be derived.
But I could find no honey moon in the Farmer’s Almanac. Only a strawberry moon. Plus, there’s no definitive answer on the etymology of why the traditional newlywed vacation is called a honeymoon. Even so, June is good for strawberries and honey and weddings.
June is also full of graduation parties and Father’s day gatherings. But this week. This day. The solstice should still get its own homage.
Pagans did it. Shakespeare did it. Called it Midsummer for the middle of the European growing season. Invoked stories of fairies, kings, queens and love. But I’m not much into ancient fertility or harvest celebrations. I just love summer! Wish I could hug it. Hold it. Never let it go.
Christians have a midsummer feast day for John the Baptist, the forerunner and cousin of Jesus. Although there is no definitive birth date for Jesus, Dec. 25 was decided upon for astronomical and theological reasons, making John’s birth date, born approximately six months before Christ, at midsummer. John also liked honey, by the way.
But we don’t hear much about that either. Probably because we haven’t figured out a way to market it with cheap toys and decorations. No, no. Not another commercial holiday. Let’s just give the solstice its due.
Maybe a bonfire. There’s lots of history of that. Or a solstice run, a neighborhood get-together, a restaurant happy hour patio crawl.
If all of these solstice celebration ideas fail, then maybe you can just wish me a happy birthday. Because yes, another reason to celebrate the longest day of the year is that it’s when I arrived in the Northern Hemisphere. Your official advocate of summer. Make it a great one, friendlies!