Thursday, June 20 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. The sun will bathe the Arctic Circle in 24 hours of daylight, and ancient monuments around the world will align with the sun.
Seasonal celebrations can be easy and fun. Here are a few simple ideas for welcoming summer this year:
- Place a bouquet of roses, lilies, or daisies in your family members’ bedrooms while they sleep, so they wake to fresh summer flowers.
- Find a special place outside to watch the sunrise and sunset. You can find out what time the sun will rise and set where you live here.
- Eat breakfast outside.
- Trace each other’s shadows throughout the day to note the sun’s long trip across the sky.
- Display summer decorations: seashells, flowers, sand dollars, or whatever symbolizes summer in your family.
- Play outside games, watercolor, or decorate the sidewalks with chalk until the sun sets.
Explore, Plant, or Gather
- Gather Saint John’s Wort. Traditionally Europeans harvested these cheerful yellow flowers on the first day of summer, dried them, and made them into a tea on the first day of winter. The tea supposedly brought the summer sunniness into the dark winter days. If you don’t have any Saint John’s Wort in your garden, you might consider planting it. It is a useful herb, and it thrives in poor soil with little attention. Find out more about it here.
- Visit a U-pick farm to harvest strawberries, snap peas, or whatever is in season where you live. Find a “pick your own” farm near you here.
- Take a camping trip. Light a fire at night to celebrate the warmth of the sun. Sleep outside. Wake with the sun.
- Go on a nature hike. Bring along guidebooks to help you identify birds, butterflies, mushrooms, or wildflowers.
- Make a summer feast. Eat exclusively from your garden or the farmer’s market to celebrate the bounties of summer in your area.
- Host a “locavore” potluck.
- Read aloud from The Summer Solstice by Ellen Jackson.
- Read aloud, watch, or put on your own rendition of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. For kids, check out the book A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids by Lois Burdett or Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids: 3 melodramatic plays for 3 group sizes by Brendan P. Kelso.
- Head to the library for a pile of summer reads. There’s no better way to cool off than to immerse yourself in a brisk, cold-weather classic, like Snow Falling on Cedars or The Call of the Wild. For this season’s must-reads, check out these lists compiled by Trib Total Media, Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, and Oprah. And for kids and teens, check out these summer-themed picture books and easy readers and YA books, or this collection of summer reading lists.
Wishing you a happy first day of summer!
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Need more inspiration for your summer celebration? Check out these resources:
- 10 Ways to Celebrate the First Day of Summer
- Celebrating Midsummer – School of the Seasons
- Celebrating the Solstice: Fiery Fetes of Summer – Huffington Post
- Summer Solstice 2010 Pictures – National Geographic
- Stonehedge Summer Solstice 2010 – YouTube (1 min. 49 sec. video)
How do you plan to celebrate the first day of summer? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.