A Midsummer’s Tradition: Celebrating the Solstice

Midsummer or Litha, more commonly known as the Summer Solstice, marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year, thanks to our proximity to the life-giving sun. Since summer is more loose and free-flowing in our home, building in family traditions the way we do in the winter months gives us something to anticipate, even if we’re not destined for a getaway. Summer Solstice is one of those yearly things we’ve grown to love.

We centre our Solstice around a bonfire as our ancestors would have done long ago. We prepare a meal that is easily cooked on the coals, and sometimes we include other families for a potluck, connecting with our small community over food, beautiful weather, and of course, a dessert of s’mores or brown sugar and cinnamon apples on the fire.

As the sun begins to set, we play with sparklers, write a wish on a piece of flying wish paper and send it into the world, and pass out glow sticks to the kids. If we gather in a larger group, I pass each family the same colour glow stick so we can easily spot our own children in the dark. With the sinking of the sun, we’re pleasantly surprised by the magical ‘faeries’ (fireflies!), their flashing lights hovering in the grass. The kids and willing adults spend until bedtime catching those tiny blinking lights, letting them fly into the night while music and laughter is shared by the fire.

Traditionally, our ancestors would have stayed up to see the sunrise, as they would have during the Winter Solstice. Our days of all-nighters lost their appeal upon the arrival of our children so we typically don’t indulge in that aspect of tradition, but we do take note of the placement of the sunset now versus where it sets in the winter. This yearly conversation helps to illustrate to ourselves and our children how omniscient and reliable the universe truly is. Each day the sun rises and falls. Each month the moon grows and shrinks. It’s these simple observations that can help to keep us rooted and connected to something beyond ourselves. 

Jacquelyn Toupin lives with her family in a heritage farmhouse that has been in her family for several generations. You can follow them on Instagram @raisinghay