Summer afternoon — summer afternoon; to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words in the English language.
— Henry James
Grab your shades, Northerners — it’s officially summer. The summer solstice, also known as midsummer, has arrived on your side of the equator. Expect more sunlight today than any other day this year, as the Earth reaches its peak tilt toward the sun. Unfortunately, the solstice doesn’t add hours in the day but, rather, more daylight. So if you thrive in the summertime, soak it up.
While solstice celebrations aren’t as widespread here in North America (although there’s this new-age celebration at Mt. Shasta) as they are in Europe and Asia, there are many ancient Native American tribal traditions, such as the Sioux’s honoring of the sun through dance, that are unique to this continent. In Chinese culture, it’s a celebration of yin, the Earth, and femininity. And early Pagans would make a plan around the planting and harvesting of crops, and would celebrate the spirit of the sun, often with bonfires.
In Norway, where the sun doesn’t fully set for several months in the summer, the eve of the solstice (or Midsummer’s Eve) is still celebrated in the traditional way, with bonfires, music, and food. Sweden and Finland take the two days off to celebrate similarly, holding hillside bonfires, enjoying saunas, swimming, decorating with flowers, and drinking. And everyone has heard of Stonehenge where, to this day, thousands of revelers gather to celebrate the solstice by watching the sun rise over the ancient monument.
A great excuse to play hard and stay up late
Since we don’t have a national holiday for the solstice, finish your work and get outside! At TSheets, you better believe we work hard and play hard. It would be silly to assume our team isn’t going to kick off the summer without a few small bashes. With the extra hours of sunlight today, you’ll find TSheeters golfing, running, boarding, hiking, biking, bike-drinking, and generally basking in the glory of summer (we probably have one of the best sunbathing patios in all of the Treasure Valley).
If you ask me, summer is a season that deserves to be celebrated, and there’s no time like the present to start your summer solstice traditions — if you don’t already have them.
Celebrate the sunlight with fire and water. Swim, dive, go boating or floating, or simply take a bath. After a nice, long day in the sun, stay up late to see the day through. Since the sun will be setting later, have an evening barbecue and watch the sun go down with your family. Or ring in the new season with a bonfire. An oldie, but a goodie, having a bonfire is one of the ancient ways to celebrate the solstice, and one that lives on, as we’ve seen, in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Grab some friends and keep the night lit.
Increasingly shorter days and longer nights are literally on the horizon, so celebrate the extra sunlight while you have the chance. And try to get some sleep eventually, Alaska!