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6/21/13 at 12:26 PM 0 Comments

Today is Summer Solstice - One of Paganisms' Holy Days

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The summer solstice has arrived. According to The Guardian, "The solstice marks the peak of summer and takes place when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. After Friday, the days get shorter until the winter solstice on December 21 when they start to get longer again."

This time of year is also referred to as midsummer and festivals are held to celebrate it throughout Europe. More Americans have joined the tradition of celebrating summer solstice and midsummer. Some of the most popular celebrations take place at Stonehenge in the United Kingdom and Santa Barbara, California.

Photo: Flickr/vintagedept - Creative Commons
2009 summer solstice celebration at Stonehenge

 According to Wikipedia, Stonehenge's modern ties to paganism date back to an Ancient Order of Druids ceremony conducted in 1905.

America's best known summer solstice celebration, "Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade began in 1974, as a birthday celebration for a popular artist and mime named Michael Gonzales. The Parade is the largest, single-day arts event in Santa Barbara County, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators," according to Summer Solstice Celebration.

Photo: Flickr/Damian Gadal - Creative Commons
The Santa Barbara parade is often compared to Mardi Gras. These participants are wearing Mardi Gras colors as part of their costumes. Picture taken in 2011.
Photo: Flickr/Damian Gadal - Creative Commons
A float in the Santa Barbara parade. I am not sure if the rider's costume symbolizes anything but it looks like a brown Santa Clause costume. Picture taken in 2011.

Pagans generally celebrate eight sacred events which make up the Wheel of the Year and one of these events is midsummer/summer solstice. According to Wikipedia, "Midsummer is one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas or Lughnasadh."

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