It's Litha, the longest day of the year! The sun will shine more today than any other day of the year, and it's a day to get outdoors and celebrate. Spend the day in the sun with your family. Play outdoors, go for a hike, and enjoy all the delights the earth has to offer.
Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate the summer solstice. Admittedly, not all of them are For Pagans Only, but they're a good way to mark the turn of the Wheel of the Year.
Go for a hike in the woods with your family. Enjoy the sounds and sights of nature. Take lots of pictures, or plan a scavenger hunt -- have each of the kids bring a "nature bag" to fill up. Remember, don't pick any live plants, unless you're deliberately wildcrafting. Before you head out, grab a field guide to local plants, and turn it into a teaching exercise -- learn to identify what you see out there in the woods. If you take your hike in a public park, bring along a plastic sack to help pick up garbage on your way. If you get the chance to do this alone, try a Nature Meditation in a quiet spot somewhere on your journey.
Litha is all about the fiery aspect of the sun, so why not celebrate the fertility of the gods with a blazing, roaring fire in your back yard? It's the longest day of the year, so stay up late and host a bonfire for your friends and family. Get sparklers too, and light them after dark. Make an offering to the gods of your tradition. Be sure to follow basic Bonfire Safety Rules, so no one gets hurt at your celebration. You can even incorporate your bonfire into a Litha rite, with the Midsummer Night Fire Ritual.
Litha is a magical, mystical time of year. Why not host a drum circle or Spiral Dance? You'll need a large group for this, but it's a lot of fun once you get everyone moving. In addition to being entertaining (and a great stress reliever), a drum circle or a ritualized dance serves another purpose - that of raising energy. The more you build, the more people will feed off of it. Invite a group of friends over, let them know there will be music and dance, and see what happens. Be sure to provide refreshments for afterwards -- drumming and dancing can be draining for some people.
Do something for charity. Organize a yard sale and donate the proceeds to a local homeless shelter. Collect gently used summer clothing and give to a local children's hospital. Host a dog-wash for your favorite shelter, and ask customers to either donate cash or pet food. Plan a neighborhood cleanup, and trim and weed common areas in your community. If you don't have time to coordinate a big project -- and not everyone does -- do things on a smaller scale. Visit an elderly neighbor and help with her housekeeping. Offer to do grocery shopping for an ill relative. If you know a mom with a brand-new baby, help out with childcare so she can get a few hours of rest. There are any number of things you can do to help others.
Summer can be a hectic and chaotic time of year. Maybe you're someone who needs to slow down and take a break. Litha is a good time to rejuvenate, so why not immerse yourself in a good book? Keep reading material handy all the time, so when you need a little down time, you can work through few pages. If your local library has a summer reading program, sign up. Many bookstores offer summer incentives for both children and adults to read during the off-school months. Not sure what to read? Why not check out some of the titles on our About Pagan/Wiccan Reading Lists? If you're more partial to fiction and "beach reading," be sure to see what our readers recommend with our Summer Witchy Fiction.
Turn off the phone, step away from the computer and television, and spend time just having fun with the people who love you most. Take the day off work if possible and spend it any way you like -- go to the zoo, a museum, a ball game, etc. Make this a day that you can do anything you want, and put the schedules away just for one day. If you're worried that money might hold you back, there's plenty of stuff you can do for free: check your local metro parks for activity schedules, go fishing at a nearby lake or river, and watch the local newspaper for free admission deals at nearby attractions. If getting away for a day isn't possible for you, spend the afternoon at home -- play board games, do jigsaw puzzles, and cook a meal together.
Clean your house. Take advantage of the warm weather to have a garage sale and get rid of all those things you don't want. You can also organize a swap with your friends, or donate all your stuff to charities like Goodwill or Salvation Army. You've got plenty of daylight at Litha, so you can accomplish a lot in just a short period of time. If your house is a bit daunting, select one room to work on at a time -- preferably the one that needs the most help! Wash windows, wipe down baseboards, get rid of stuff you know you'll never use. Organize as you clean, putting donatable items into one pile, and trash in another, so you don't have to sort it later. Turn the project into a ritual: House Cleaning Rite.
Have a barbeque, and invite all your family and friends over. Decorate with colors of the sun -- yellows, reds, and oranges. Feast on lots of summery food, like watermelons, strawberries, and fresh green salads. Add outdoor games like horseshoes, ladder golf, and backyard volleyball. While you're at it, set up some kind of water activities -- water balloons, super soakers, a pool to splash in. All of these are great outside activities in the heat of summer, and help celebrate the balance between fire and water.
Many ancient cultures marked the summer solstice with rites and rituals honoring the sun. Celebrate the significance of Midsummer with ritual and prayers that recognize the sun and its magnificent power. Set up your Litha altar with symbols of the season -- solar symbols, candles, midsummer fruits and vegetables, and more.