Summer Solstice
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SUMMER SOLSTICE

17th-century poet, Naogeorgus, explained at Midsummer that special straw covered wheels were set on fire, and rolled down a mountain, so that it appeared if the sun had fallen from the sky and was rolling along the horizon, and in so doing, taking away all bad luck, especially if they plunged into water at the bottom. This wheel rolling represented the beginning of the sun’s declination. This practice dated back to the 4th century, recorded as a ritual followed by the pagan community of Aquitaine, France. Similar rituals were described around 530 by a British monk in Gloucestershire. Christians then transferred the tradition to 24th June and rededicated it to St John the Baptist.
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17th-century poet, Naogeorgus, explained at Midsummer that special straw covered wheels were set on fire, and rolled down a mountain, so that it appeared if the sun had fallen from the sky and was rolling along the horizon, and in so doing, taking away all bad luck, especially if they plunged into water at the bottom. This wheel rolling represented the beginning of the sun’s declination. This practice dated back to the 4th century, recorded as a ritual followed by the pagan community of Aquitaine, France. Similar rituals were described around 530 by a British monk in Gloucestershire. Christians then transferred the tradition to 24th June and rededicated it to St John the Baptist.
According to pagan folklore, evil spirits would appear on the summer solstice. To ward off evil spirits, people would wear protective garlands of herbs and flowers.

One of the most powerful of these plants was known as ‘chase devil.’ Today it’s called St. John’s Wort, because of its association with St. John’s Day.

Other summer solstice traditions hold that the ashes from a Midsummer bonfire can protect one from misfortune or that the ashes—when spread across one’s garden—will bring a bountiful harvest.

From the view of the Sphinx, the sun sets squarely between the Great Pyramids of Khufu and Khafre on Egypt’s Giza plateau on the summer solstice.

Archeologists have long debated the purpose and uses of Stonehenge, a Neolithic megalith monument in the south of England. The site is aligned with the direction of the sunrise on the summer solstice.

Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice. Midsummer festivities are especially popular in Northern Europe where bonfires are lit, girls wear flowers in their hair and homes are decorated with garlands and other greenery.

In some parts of Scandinavia, Maypoles are erected and people dance around them at Midsummer instead of May Day. Neopagans, Wiccans and New Agers around the world hold summer solstice celebrations. Each year, thousands gather at Stonehenge to commemorate the longest day of the year.
This is a recurring feature in almost all celebrations. The central belief is that the fire deters evil spirits who roam freely as the sun turns south.

People in Estonia and Latvia believe that the fire scares mischievous harvest-ruining spirits, so the bigger the fire the further away the spirits keep (so the better the harvest will be). Estonians believe that not lighting a fire invites fire into the home, causing devastation.

In a similar vein, many customs also include burning a witch figure on top of the fire, usually made from straw and cloth, as it is believed that witches convene on solstice night. According to Danish folklore, this meeting occurs on Bloksbjerg, the Brocken mountain, and the burning 'sends the witch away'.

Jumping over the bonfire is a popular tradition in places such as Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Spain. In Spain, they shout 'meigas!', meaning 'witches off!', to bring prosperity.

Build a bonfire to burn a witch, like the Danish. Bulgaria has its own version of jumping over the fire with their Enyovden celebration (taking place on 24th June), which they believe marks the start of winter. Participants join a fire ritual involving dancing on smouldering embers, called Nestinarstvo.

Celebrations are held on Casper Mountain in Wyoming, USA, too. Revellers throw a handful of red soil into the bonfire, and believe it grants a wish.
Celebrating Femininity in China: In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Feasts: In ancient Gaul, which encompasses modern-day France and some parts of its neighboring countries, the Midsummer celebration was called Feast of Epona. The celebration was named after a mare goddess who personified fertility and protected horses. In ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes, pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. After Christianity spread in Europe and other parts of the world, many pagan customs were incorporated into the Christian religion. In parts of Scandinavia, the Midsummer celebration continued but was observed around the time of St John’s Day, on June 24, to honor St John the Baptist instead of the pagan gods.
Midsummer
Noc Kupały (Poland)
Dragon Boat Festival (East Asia)
Christmas typically marks the southern summer solstice.
Day of Private Reflection (Northern Ireland)
Jaanipäev (Estonia)
Juhannus (Finland)
Jāņi (Latvia)
Rasos (Lithuania)
National Aboriginal Day (Canada)
Tiregān (Iran)
Fremont Solstice Parade (Fremont, Seattle, Washington, United States)
Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade (Santa Barbara, California, United States)
International Surfing Day
International Yoga Day
Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day
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