In 2016, the Summer Solstice will be celebrated on the 20th of June in the Northern Hemisphere. The Summer Solstice occurs when the axial tilt of the earth is at its closest to the sun. It has more hours of daylight than any other time of the year, making it the longest day of the year.
People across the world will mark the event in various ways. While different ancient cultures had different traditions, some of the most time-honoured and world-famous were those undertaken by the Celtic people.
The Summer Solstice was one of eight sacred Celtic days where the Celts would take time to celebrate through a variety of customs. They used ‘Natural Time’ taking their lead from the Solstices and Equinoxes to determine the seasons. This is in contrast to the Gregorian calendar that has been adopted today.
The Celts believed it was a time to honour their Goddess who went by many names, depending on which Celtic region they lived in. For example, in France she was Epona, but in Ireland she was Etain. It was also a time to banish evil spirits and open up a path towards light and abundance which for The Celts meant a good harvest. Feasting and dancing took place and bonfires were lit in celebration.
For an illustrated look at the connection between the Summer Solstice and its Celtic traditions; see the below infographic which has been created by Celtic Cross Online.