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Summer Solstice

Tomorrow will be one of my favorite days of the year: Summer Solstice, or Litha as we pagans call it. 
It's the "longest" day of the year, as long as we will have 15 hours and 15 minutes of natural light!

Ancient populations considered this day as a moment full of spiritual meanings; the abundance of light was interpreted as a heavenly gift. Ancient Greeks and pre-Columbian populations celebrated this day with rituals related to the cult of the Sun and rebirth. The Romans dedicated both solstices to Janus, one of the most important deities of their pantheon, the guardian of every beginning and of every form of passage (so even the transition from one natural cycle to another). The Celts had the habit to light a bonfire on the first day of summer, with the conviction that this gesture transmitted strength to the Sun. In ancient China the summer solstice was instead the occasion to pay homage to Yang, the positive energy that according to tradition reaches its peak during summer season.

Over the centuries, Christianity has absorbed many rites related to the solstice, enriching them with new meanings. A famous example is the feast of Saint John (June 24), a religious solemnity widespread especially in Italy and Spain, which provides the lighting of large night bonfires, remembering the ancient solstice cults in honor of fire and light.

On this day in Latvia is celebrated the national holiday known as Jani, characterized by open fires, dances and baths in the lakes. In Finland, the solstice (called Juhannus) is considered a good time to find the soul mate: several couples choose this date to marry, with related re-enactment rituals, including bonfires and midnight saunas.

Do you have any special traditions for Summer Solstice in your country or in your city/town? I'd be glad to know them!

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R+C's profile picture

This blog of yours caught my attention because it touched on a few examples on how nature itself influenced and inspired what we know today as religion.

One such example came to mind as I read your words and that was how ancient civilizations were inspired by the rising sun. To them, facing the east in anticipation of the sun not only uplifted them but gave rise to celebrating the new day with hopes of good things to come

The sun celebration meant standing with arms extended out to the side and facing the east. As the sun rose it cast a shadow of the person in the form of a cross.

Overtime this body shadow or cross took on a spiritual life of its own. Where it now stands and defines itself in a a most spiritual way

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Thanks a lot for your precious comment! There are so many similarities among different cultures, and all of them are always connected to the way that humans connected themselves to nature and - above all - lunar cycles. I wish I had enough time in my life to study all those things!

by DarkMiryam; ; Report

Joseph Schnitzel

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