I am writing this column on the day of the summer solstice (June 21), the longest day of the year.
I am grateful that the sun has decided to celebrate the occasion and come out. The last few days had me doubting if a note on the calendar was going to have any effect on the weather we’ve been having.
Did anyone else turn the heat back on? But all is well again, the world has tilted to its rightful place.
Do you ever feel different at these transitional times of year?
Sometimes we make light of the planets being out of alignment or the full moon affecting people, but joking aside, there is plenty of historic examples showing the significance of these times.
Alongside the advanced technologies of today, there is also more interest in old-fashioned themes and traditions too. There are many articles about the significance of lunar cycles on everything from crops to fishing to women’s moods.
I don’t know about you, but all this information does seem to support the concept of everything being connected, don’t you think?
Did you know some scientists think Stonehenge may have been constructed to mark the June solstice? It has long been used to help organize plans for farmers with planting crops (with other seasonal changes helping to signify other agricultural work like harvesting and tilling). Other ancient structures also demonstrate ways people of the time could have known these dates without a calendar.
In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice was preceded by the star Sirius in the night sky. That was the annual time of flooding in the Nile River, which was essential for many of their agricultural crops. So, they made the start of their year just before the Solstice, to help organize things.
In China, the summer solstice is a celebration of femininity. It corresponds to the alternate celebration in winter of all things masculine (respectively yin and yang in their traditions.) Celtic cultures, ancient Gauls in France, Germanic tribes and the Vikings all celebrated the warmer, longer days and new season for travel and farming with feasts and often bonfires.
Even if you don’t believe that the position of the Sun, or the Moon, has any connection to your mood or energy level, it’s easy to make the case for people having more celebrations once summer begins.
The notion of bonfires has certainly not gone out of fashion (although here in the Okanagan we are very aware of making those safe and responsible).
There are festivals galore, made more possible with late summer twilight. And of course, there is plenty of celebrating the bounty of our agriculture. Everything from a visit to the farmer’s market to a fancy long table dinner allows us to appreciate our local abundance in nature. The only requirement is that we take the time to do just that—appreciate it.
The festivals of ancient cultures showed the respect for Mother Nature and her power to create and destroy. The summer solstice is a time full of new beginnings and joy in abundance. Our modern festivals give us the chance to do the same thing, even if we don’t recognize it.
So, I wish you a joyous summer full of celebrations and local delicacies. Dance around that bonfire, toast your companions and their good health, and savour the long days of the season.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.