The Summer Solstice occurs when one of Earth’s poles is at its maximum tilt towards the Sun. This takes place twice yearly: once in the Northern Hemisphere, once in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the date of the Summer Solstice is typically June 20-21st. In the Southern Hemisphere, the date is typically December 21-22nd. The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. It is historically marked by significant religious festivals and rituals. This article will expand on what that can mean for your pantheon or path!

In Ancient Greece, the Summer Solstice was often accompanied by the festival Kronia and the arrival of the early Olympic Games. Kronia was a festival honoring the Greek god Kronos, particularly his aspect as a harvest deity. Traditional celebrations of this event included banquets and the upending of social classes, such as servants being waited upon by masters. In your practice today, a simple offering ritual to Kronos and/or a family meal is more than sufficient to honor this ancient practice. Modern Hellenic polytheists may also choose to honor deities such as Demeter, Persephone, Dionysus, Helios, or Apollo for the Summer Solstice. Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus all are considered to be deities of harvest in their own ways. Since the Summer Solstice is a very important consideration for farmers and gardeners alike, these deities are great choices for offerings and prayers at this time. Helios and Apollo are both Greek deities of the Sun, which will be at its most direct course over the Earth at this point of the year, so prayers and rituals for these deities were commonplace in the ancient world at this time as well.

Shortly before the Summer Solstice, ancient Romans would hold a festival called Vestalia in honor of the hearth goddess, Vesta. This would take place on the 7th-15th of June. Traditionally, this led to a pause in daily life to honor Vesta’s blessings and gifts to the city, and purify her shrine on the last day of the festivities. On these festival days, no public business or marriages were conducted. Romans, mostly women, would visit Vesta’s shrine barefoot to offer sacrifices such as mola salsa. Mola salsa was an ancient Roman recipe, usually used for bread, that consisted of coarse-ground, toasted emmer flour and salt. This mixture would either be baked into a loaf or sprinkled into the flames, typically, for offering. Emmer flour can still be purchased today and used to revive this ancient practice. 

The Summer Solstice is sometimes called “Litha” by modern Pagans, usually Wiccans. Litha is one of the eight sabbats. The eight sabbats are the eight major holidays and celebrations still modernly celebrated by Modern Pagans. All of these holidays are based on the movement of the Sun and how it affects our planet through seasons, life cycles, and the growth of our food. These sabbats include Samhain (October 31), Yule (December 21), Imbolc (February 1), Ostara (March 20-21), Beltane (May 1), Litha (June 21), Lammas (August 1), and Mabon (September 21). All dates listed above are exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere.

Litha is often called “midsummer,” and borrows its traditions from a multitude of different cultures. It is the day that the sun gods and goddesses of any given pantheon or practice are considered to be at their most powerful and receive prayers, rituals, and offerings as a result. Outdoor rituals are common, both in the ancient world and for Modern Pagans to take advantage of the long daylight hours. Fire rituals are held, similar to Beltane’s bonfire rituals, to represent the strength and power of the Sun. Altars may be decorated with solar symbols, and witches may choose to do cleansing or protective spells. Days after this point will continue to grow darker until Yule. 

There are so many vastly different ways that the Summer Solstice was and still can be celebrated throughout the world. This is just a brief description of Pagan practices that you can use or take inspiration from. Other general ideas include playing summer games, tending to your garden, using water or fire in a ritual or spell, and watching the Sun rise and set. Do what makes you feel closer to the Earth and the Sun, and have a joyful Summer Solstice!

Works Cited

Anna Wichmann. (June 21, 2022). “How the Ancient Greeks Celebrated the Summer Solstice”. Greek Reporter.

Catherine Boeckmann. (May 31, 2023). “Summer Solstice 2023: The First Day of Summer”. Almanac.

Dhruti Bhagat. (June 18, 2019). “The Origins and Practices of Litha”. Boston Public Library. Editors. (August 21, 2018). “Summer Solstice”. History.

Melissa. (N.D.A). “Kronia – Hellenion.” Hellenion.

Natasha Sheldon. (June 6, 2019.) “The Vestalia: Celebrating Vesta and Purifying Rome”. History and Archaeology Online.

Farrell Monaco. (February 7, 2019). “Bread for the Gods: An Ancient Roman Recipe for Mola Salsa”. Tavola Mediterranea.

Michelle Gruben. (November 26, 2017). “The eight Sabbats: Witch’s holidays”. Grove and Grotto.

Barbi Gardiner. (July 29, 2022). “The Magical Wheel of the Year: 8 Sabbats for Seasonal Living”. The Outdoor Apothecary.