Midsummer’s Day and why it’s not the same day as Summer Solstice

Many think the terms Summer Solstice and Midsummer’s Day are interchangeable – but they are in fact their own special events. This year, the Summer Solstice was on 21st June. The longest day of the year with some 16 hours of sunlight. But Midsummer’s Day is today, 24th June.

Summer Solstice

Based on the planet’s axis, this means it changes every year. It occurs when the planet’s geographical pole is most greatly inclined towards the sun and happens twice a year, once for the southern hemisphere and once for the northern hemisphere. At the north pole on Summer Solstice, there will be constant sunlight for 24 hours a day for several days! The sun reaches its highest altitude of the year on the Summer Solstice. It marks the longest day of the year, which sadly means from now on the days start drawing in until the Winter Solstice – which is the shortest day of the year.

Like other religious groups, Pagans are in awe of the incredible strength of the sun and the divine powers that create life. For Pagans, this spoke in the Wheel of the Year is a significant point. The Goddess took over the earth from the horned God at the beginning of spring and she is now at the height of her power and fertility. For some Pagans the Summer Solstice marks the marriage of the God and Goddess and see their union as the force that creates the harvest’s fruits.

This is a time to celebrate growth and life but for Pagans, who see balance in the world and are deeply aware of the ongoing shifting of the seasons, it is also time to acknowledge that the sun will now begin to decline once more towards winter.

Midsummer’s Day

Celebrations of the solstice have been held since ancient times and became known as Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day. It would later come together with other celebrations – namely St John’s Day which commemorates St John the Baptist’s birth on 24th June. For Pagans, the day involves lighting fires, collecting herbs – particularly St John’s Wort. This was also the main time for handfasting (Pagan weddings). A lot of the foods and drinks eaten at this time involved honey – to sustain them during their ‘honeymoon’ nights! The term Midsummer’s Day in modern times generally refers to numerous celebrations held over the solstice period, between 19th – 24th June.

When celebrating midsummer, Pagans draw on diverse traditions. In England, thousands of Pagans and non-Pagans go to places of ancient religious sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury to see the sun rising on the first morning of summer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close