The longest day of the year, the summer solstice has been observed with various holidays, festivals, and other rituals since ancient times. Even if you can't make it to the giant Stonehenge celebration this year, there are still plenty of summer solstice rituals your kids can participate in and enjoy.
This super-long day has been observed with special celebrations by cultures all over the world. For instance, the Sioux tribes performed a ceremonial sun dance on the date, whereas ancient people in northern and central Europe celebrated the solstice with bonfires thought to boost the sun's energy, as explained on History.com. The holiday is still observed by many traditions and cultures today, where it is known by names such as Litha or St. John's Day, as further noted by History.com.
At a time when people are increasingly removed from the natural world, it's a great chance to help your kids appreciate sunshine, the outdoors, and time with family. By incorporating some traditions of your own into this longstanding time of celebration, you and your kids can connect with nature and human history at the same time. Some of the rituals, such as setting bonfires or making goals for Litha, are practiced by modern pagan groups, as noted by HuffPost. The rest of the rituals, such as hosting a backyard BBQ, can be new traditions that your own family starts.
1. Light A Bonfire
For people who celebrate Litha, holding a bonfire can be a powerful way to connect with the most sunny, fiery day of the year, as explained in ThoughtCo. If that idea doesn't totally resonate with you, then it can just be a great excuse to introduce your kid to the magic of s'mores. Whatever the case, be sure to follow basic bonfire safety tips and checking your local fire restrictions, as noted by the California Wildland Fire Coordinating Group. Do the whole responsible adult thing and everyone will have a great time.
2. Practice Outdoor Meditation Together
OK, you don't have to sit in a perfect lotus pose or anything. Just enjoy a quiet moment in nature with your kid, whether you're chilling on a picnic blanket in the park or watching the waves at the beach. If you do want to take it a step further, then consider introducing your kid to basic meditation practices with a quick 3 to 5 minute timed meditation experiment, as noted in HuffPost. It's an invitation to appreciate your child, the outdoors, and a few moments of quiet all at the same time.
3. Watch The Sunrise And Sunset
Enjoy every moment of the sun this day. Get your kids up in time to watch the sunrise, even if it involves some serious pestering on your part, and stay up together until the sun finally sets. It's the best way to help your kid really understand what the longest day of the year means.
4. Tend A Garden
It's an easy way to appreciate nature on the sunniest day of the year. Whether you weed the backyard flower garden or plant a few herbs in a window container, it's a simple and fun activity that will help your kid get more in touch with nature. Plus, home-grown herbs are absolutely delicious.
5. Set Some Goals
If you're just not feeling outdoorsy this year, there are still ways to mark the summer solstice with more indoor-friendly activities. For instance, Litha is a traditional time to set goals for the rest of the year and take stock of your life, as noted in The Sun. Maybe your kid can set a summer reading goal and try to knock out seven books before school starts back, for instance.
6. Read About It
Reading is one of the best rituals of all. Help your curious kid learn more about the day by visiting your local library or bookstore for some books about the sun and the seasons. For a spot-on recommendation, check out The Longest Day: Celebrating the Summer Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer.
7. Hold A Neighborhood BBQ
Sure, the average backyard BBQ seems pretty modern. But it incorporates an open flame, a feast for friends and family, and (perhaps) even a little outdoor dancing. It's actually kind of an ancient ritual in disguise. Throw one this year to mark the summer solstice with your family.