Friday, June 18, 2021

Six Simple Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

This Sunday June 20, is Father's Day, but this year it also happens to be the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, and one of my favorites! It's the longest day of the year with the longest period of sunlight hours, 14:44 minutes to be exact (although Saturday, June 19 boasts the same length!).  But Sunday does mark the official beginning of summer, and while autumn and winter remain my favorites, this year in particular I am really looking forward to the summer season!

The thing I've always found most interesting about the solstices is that following the summer solstice the days actually begin to shorten, and with the winter solstice they begin to lengthen.  In fact in looking online, between Sunday and the end of the month, June 30, will will have already lost almost 3 minutes of daylight. It's actually one of the reasons I enjoy keeping a phenology wheel, because it really helps you to see just how quickly the transition occurs.

Celebrating and observing the solstices is a fun activity for the family, or in my case, even alone.  In some places there are festivals and elaborate celebrations, including an annual gathering at Stonehenge, although as with last year, it has been cancelled due to covid. But, if that is something that appeals to you can watch both the sunrise and the sunset online.

- Stonehenge Summer Solstice : Sunrise

- Stonehenge Summer Solstice: Sunset

Keep in mind that Stonehenge is located in Salisbury, England and there is a 5 hour time difference, so while you may be watching a live sunrise and sunset, outside our door in the US it will either be quiet early in the morning and still dark, or late afternoon and still bright. You can also just plan to watch the sunrise and sunset right where you are!

But if you're looking for some simpler ways to celebrate the day, here are a few suggestions.

1.  Make sun tea.

2. Make a sun dial. This is a fun and educational activity to do with your kids.  I personally really like this idea and would be a lot of fun if you happen to be at the beach. I'm over here trying to figure out how I could replicate this at our apartment.

3. Make shadow art. Shadow art is another activity that your children/grandchildren might enjoy. Heck, who am I kidding, I might try to find some interesting objects and do this myself!

4. Make wildflower suncatchers. This activity could get you out in the sun for a bit, if you go on a nature walk to collect your sunflowers! I made these with my youngest one year and results were truly beautiful! Another fun idea we've done in the past is a nature mandala! You can collect leaves, pine cones and other items on your walk to make this, and it actually takes on a sun shape! Watch this video to learn how.

5. Make a lantern and go on a walk at twilight. This is hands down one of my all time favorite activities, especially to close out the first day of summer! It's symbolic at the winter solstice, too, as it symbols the return of the light, but I enjoy it equally, and maybe even more so in summer as it's not as cold! There are so many fun ways to craft a lantern, I'm just going to provide with a link to the page I searched on at Pinterest and you can choose the one that's right for you! 

- Ideas for Summer Solstice Lanterns

6. Cookout and eat dinner outdoors, or roast marshmallows over an open fire. This might be especially nice this year, and can double as your Father's Day celebration!

As you can see, if you want to observe and celebrate the solstice, it really takes very little effort to do one or two special things to mark the day! I hope a few of these ideas have inspired you, and if you use any of them or have your own traditions for celebrating the day, please leave a comment and share! I'll be observing this special day, and I'll share pictures of the things I did with you on Monday!

Soaking in the long summer days!

- Kim

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