What’s not to love about the sun? It brings warmth, light and, well let’s face it, it just feels good. Without it, fresh green leaves would not unfold on tree branches and colorful flowers would never blossom. That great star that helps keep life on earth also gives us scented flower petals, herbs and spices that give such pleasing aromas to our multitude of incense blends. All of this natural rejoicing that takes place under the sun’s rays, which lure the bees out of hibernation to pollinate farmers’ crops, turns into life-giving food that is harvested all over the planet.
Solstice comes from the two Latin words ‘sol’, meaning sun, and ‘sistere’, which is to stand still. This marks the first day of summer. This year, Sumner Solstice is on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and takes place exactly six months after Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year for us in North America and Europe. Summer Solstice takes place for a brief moment in time when the earth’s semi-axis is inclined at its maximum tilt towards the sun, allowing its rays to reach the highest position of the year in the sky in the direction of the North Pole. It’s this changing tilt that gives us four seasons in the Northern Hemisphere.
Needless to say, when the longest day of the year, or should we say the day that has the longest period of sunlight, comes around, this is certainly something worth celebrating. Culturally, the astronomical event has been interpreted and celebrated differently since ancient times. While some view Summer Solstice as a sign of fertility, others believe certain plants have miraculous healing powers if picked on this night, while others believe spirits are lurking around. Some simply focus on the enjoyment of the warm season. This day can be celebrated as a holiday or festival, or with feasts, gatherings or rituals.
In places such as Scandinavia, it is called Midsummer and is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. With its pre-Christian origin, some attend pagan gatherings with prayers while others celebrate with a bonfire and stay up during the shortest night of the year to welcome in the dawn. While the outdoor fire is a form of celebration for some, others light it to protect against evil spirits that are believed to be wandering freely as the sun returns southwards. Some visit Stonehenge, which dates back to somewhere around 3000-1500 B.C., as it’s aligned with the solstice sunrise. So whether you observe this sun shiny day with a prayer, bonfire or joyous festival, or if you just want to bask in the warmth after a long winter, we at Prabhuji’s Gifts hope you will make the most of this precious day.
Valid until June 30, 2013