Edited by Flickety, Zareen, Craftbomb, Nazgurl and 3 others
The summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries, with all sorts of traditions growing up around it. In the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice is usually celebrated on the 21st of June, while in the southern hemisphere, it's usually celebrated on the 21st of December.
1Do some sky observation. From an astronomical point of view, the summer solstice occurs sometime between June 20 and June 21 (sometimes June 22) in the Northern Hemisphere, and December 21 and December 22 (sometimes December 23) in the Southern Hemisphere. Most years it is on the 21st but due to the leap year in the Gregorian calendar, there is a change every few years to the date, to account for the leap years. If you'd like to witness the actual moment of the summer solstice in the sky, read How to witness the summer solstice and be sure to take all precautions to prevent eye damage.
5Consolidate your energies. The stability of summer and the promise of balmy, warmer days ahead is considered to be a time to develop yourself, to set yourself free and to nurture yourself. As the crops begin ripening, this is a time for self-maturation and for consolidating your energies. Take the easier nature of summer as a reason to make greater efforts to lose weight, to refresh your home (perhaps a new layout, maybe even a new home), to readjust your nutrition intake and to find an exercise that you really click with rather than doing one everyone else is doing.
6Renew your wardrobe. If you haven't updated your look in a while and your clothes are beginning to show signs of age, take a fresh look at your wardrobe on the summer solstice. Are those clothes still representative of who you are now? Are those clothes showing you to your best advantage or are they letting you down through ill fit, out-of-date style or simply poor choices? Send the unwanted clothing items to the charity store, a friend or to the rag bag, depending on their quality. Then add some new items that make you feel great and that help you to stay feeling confident about the look you're presenting to others.
7Consider flexing your healing muscles. Herbs and flowers picked during the summer solstice were believed by people in medieval times to carry healing energy above and beyond any normal healing properties. While we'd nowadays consider this to be scientifically doubtful, you can still honor the sentiment by growing your own herbal medicine garden during summer and learning more about using plants to heal minor injuries and illnesses, such as scratches and headaches. There are many good books about using plants for medicinal purposes, such as National Geographic's Guide to Medicinal Herbs(2012), which details what does––and what does not–– really have healing properties.
8Dance around a maypole. If you're lucky enough to live where the local community has organized a maypole, give it a go! More information on how to do the dance properly can be found in How to do a maypole dance.
9Plan some travel. Consider spending summer solstice away from home, at one of the key destinations where the summer solstice has been celebrated for centuries. In particular, Britain's Stonehenge is a must for the avid observer of the summer solstice. Stonehenge aligns with the sunrise on the solstice, making for spectacular viewing. However, you need to be there very early in the morning well rugged up because thousands of others will also be attending to celebrate the day as the sun rises. Two other places where people like to celebrate the summer solstice are Sedona in Arizona and Cairo (where an ancient sun temple was discovered in 2006).
10Throw a party with a bonfire. A bonfire is part of the tradition of the summer solstice. Fire has always been a source of protection for human beings, scaring off the beings of the night, both real and magical. Nowadays you can reinvent the bonfire as a great reason to hold a summer solstice party with friends. Just be sure to choose a location where it is both safe and permitted to burn a bonfire––check with the local authority first. In some places there will a fire ban due to the dry conditions, so make plans to have a party without the bonfire if this happens.
11Honor the sun. If you enjoy doing yoga, there is a set of exercises known as the Sun Salutation or Salute to the Sun which you can perform. These exercises are intended to exercise both your body and your soul, balancing both in harmony through both meditation and physical movement in one. Begin this exercise on the morning of the summer solstice and aim to make it a daily habit from this time on.