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Traditional Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

The summer solstice or midsummer is the longest day and shortest night of the year. People worldwide have celebrated it as a time of growth for centuries, dating back to the ancient Romans and Greeks. In spring, the earth returns to life after the long, cold winter, but summer is when we enjoy what the earth has to bear. Whether you take some inspiration from the civilizations of long ago or carve out a new tradition of your own, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the summer solstice.


01 Watch the sunrise

What better way to celebrate the longest day than to get up early and watch the sunrise? This tradition goes back centuries. In England, thousands of people visit Stonehenge on the summer solstice yearly to watch the sunrise as the ancient druids once did, but you don't need to travel to take in this spectacular sight. Wake up early and enjoy your coffee on the porch as the sky turns pink, or camp out overnight in the backyard to ensure you have the best view in the morning.

Woman looks out car window towards sunrise Ascent Xmedia / Getty Images

02 Set new goals

Midsummer is when fruits ripen, and flowers bloom, making it the perfect time to check in with yourself. How are you growing? What progress have you made? If you're happy with your path, come up with some affirmations to stay positive and keep moving forward. If you want to start something different, the summer solstice is a great time to set new goals and figure out what you need to do to reach them.

Woman sitting in garden on chair holding tablet Westend61 / Getty Images

03 Make a summer bucket list

The summer solstice is the official start of the season, so take this time to figure out how you want to spend it. Are you hoping to get to the beach? Do you have a giant to-read pile to get through? Whether you plan to spend your summer going on outdoor adventures, traveling the world, or soaking up the sun and relaxing at home, make a list to ensure you get in everything you want to do.

Young woman reads a book on the beach NDinfinity / Getty Images

04 Go to a bonfire

Pagans and Vikings celebrated the summer solstice with bonfires, and you can, too. This ritual is tied to the ancient idea that fire deters evil spirits and is still a popular tradition worldwide. Many communities host summer solstice bonfires, but you can also use a fire pit in your backyard to have a small fire of your own. Roast marshmallows, dance, sing and share with your friends and family to welcome the new season.

Two men roasting marshmallow over fire in the party night Yana Iskayeva / Getty Images

05 Go camping

Whether you pitch a tent, stay in a cabin, or sleep in a sleeping bag under the stars, camping gets you closer to the earth, surrounding you with nature. It's also a perfect setting to incorporate other rituals, like sitting around the fire and watching the sunrise.

Campfire with a vintage kettle next to the beautiful lake. ArtistGNDphotography / Getty Images

06 Plant something

The summer solstice is all about celebrating the beauty and bounty of nature, and one of the best ways to do that is to literally dig in and get your hands dirty. Start a vegetable garden, plant flowers in a windowbox, or add a strawberry pot to your front porch. It doesn't matter how big or small it is! Plant a seed, and watch it grow.

Unrecognised person gardening in spring ArtMarie / Getty Images

07 Have a picnic in the park

Pack a lunch, grab some drinks, and bring your favorite blanket for a picnic in the park. You can prepare whatever food you like, but try to include fresh fruits and veggies so you can enjoy a little of what Mother Nature has to offer. Pick an out-of-the-way spot where you can relax and take in the beautiful surroundings while you enjoy a delicious meal.

Father and two young sons having picnic on blanket in grass field at park on summer evening after riding bikes Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

08 Collect flowers

There are plenty of ways to collect flowers for the summer solstice. You can pick them from your yard, head out into the woods to search for wildflowers, or find a farm or local shop that allows you to pick your own bouquet. Then, arrange your harvest in a beautiful vase, make a flower crown, or hang them to dry and enjoy well into the next season.

Woman in rustic dress gathering poppy and wildflowers in sunset light, walking in summer meadow. Atmospheric authentic moment. Copy space. Hand picking up flowers in countryside. Rural slow life Bogdan Kurylo / Getty Images

09 Go for a swim

Getting outside is a given on the summer solstice, and taking a swim is a great way to cool down and enjoy another element of nature while you're soaking up the sun. If you don't have access to a pool, head to the closest lake or river with safe swimming access and get your hair wet.

Happy couple jumping into the water from a jetty TommL / Getty Images

10 Play outside

One thing to take away from the summer solstice is that magic happens every day. While you're outdoors soaking up the sun, take some time to act like a kid again. Run through the sprinkler, blow bubbles, and play kickball. Go on a bike ride, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, or play tag. Getting in touch with your inner child helps you slow down and enjoy the present moment, and there's no better day to do so than the longest day of the year.

Father and daughter having fun in park with Soap Bubbles eli_asenova / Getty Images

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