June 21st of each year marks the changing of seasons with the occurrence of the summer solstice. This is the longest day of the year! After today, we experience longer, warmer days. People enjoy this as much as bees!
A Day of Rituals
Traditions from different parts of the world seem to center on the common threads of love and romance, a celebration of the earth ripe with items to harvest, and honoring the power of the sun. June is the most popular month for weddings and from ancient times it was seen as a blessing to get married in June. Interestingly enough, June’s full moon is called the honeymoon. This is because pagan groups made mead for their celebrations during the first month of summer.
One of the most known rituals from various cultures is lighting a bonfire and dancing. The fires were lit to honor the heat and light that the sun provides, coinciding with its longest-lasting appearance in the sky. Ancient peoples found this time to be rich with energy and full of bountiful crops, so paying homage to the sun was a fitting way to celebrate the start of the season. Juno, a Roman goddess symbolizing love and marriage, lends her name to the month of June; a seemingly perfect name for a month traditionally full of weddings!
Celebrate the Solstice at Home
Set aside some time for yourself today to practice yoga out in the open air, letting the sunshine warm you as you do so (wear plenty of sunscreen!). Or, go for a quiet walk through your local park or trail, enjoying the humming of insects and wildflowers that are popping into full bloom. A favorite way of ours to celebrate is with a bonfire – there’s almost nothing more perfect than enjoying a cocktail and the smell of woodsmoke with great company! While we don’t suggest jumping through a bonfire as the Ancient Greeks did, you can toss some fresh lavender into the fire pit and make a wish.
Whatever you do, make sure you spend a bit of time outside, enjoying the season – before you know it, we’ll be seeing snowflakes again…
The Eastern Shore Summer Solstice
On the shore, the sun rises early and sets late during the height of the Summer. Thanks to the vast open waterways, we often have an unobstructed view of the sunrises and sunsets. On the Summer Solstice, the day gets longer the further north you venture-somewhere in Alaska would have a 21+ hour day, while here in Maryland the sun hangs around for 15 (ish) hours). We can’t really complain though…we have less than 9 hours of daylight during the dark of Winter.
During these warm months and long days, the fields at Chesterhaven Beach Farm come alive. Near the house, huge swaths of yarrow, mints, salivas and coneflowers start blooming in May and June. This gives the bees a huge source of food, especially when combined with the acres of meadows and wooded areas all around the property. Other native flowers, like butterfly weed and coneflowers, start blooming very close to the Solstice itself. We like to think that their fiery, vibrant colors have a bit of connection to the white-hot heat of the sun.
Treat yourself to your own Summer S
I’m lucky enough to have a birthday that falls on the Solstice – it’s always a treat to enjoy a slice of cake and the start of my favorite season at the same time! I love how the farm really comes alive at this time – it always gives me a great feeling of renewal and adventure. Summer is a period of intense growth and change, so it’s right back to work in the apiary when the cake is all gone ;)
However you celebrate the Solstice, I hope that you have a great start to your Summer. Enjoy the sunshine, treat yourself to some cake, and have a great time with friends and family!