Saturday was the first day of summer and the summer solstice. We’ve been having summer weather for at least a month, so I don’t know why summer is supposedly just starting up.
We got more hours of daylight than any other day of the year, but I don’t understand why I need the calendar to tell me that. I can see when the sun rises and drops. When I’m comfortable outdoors in my ratty old T-shirt, I can figure out summer has arrived.
I understand some groups of pagans think all this is really important stuff, but I’m not a pagan. On the other hand, many of our “modern” observances, like summer solstice, have pagan origins.
For instance, “honeymoon” comes from the “honey moon,” the first full moon in June and considered the best time to gather honey, which has something to do with fertility.
And a lot of our ancient ancestors made beer from honey (mead). I guess people looked for a reason to party way back then, too.
Solstice comes from a couple of pagan (Roman) words meaning the sun standing still. This seems to fit with its being the day with the most daylight in the Northern Hemisphere, around 15 hours from daybreak to sunset. The day has a number of other names, such as All-couples Day, Gathering Day, and Midsummer (middle of the growing season). Celebrating summer solstice goes back thousands of years in just about any culture anybody can think of. Between planting and harvest and the mid point between the equinoxes, it always seemed a good excuse to celebrate, a reason to have a good time.
I’ll drink to that. We don’t have to share the pagans’ beliefs to agree with them about having a good time. After all, many of our holidays were adapted from pagan events anyway. Modern science says summer solstice happens because the Earth’s axis tilts about 23 degrees and makes the sun higher in the sky for a while. So what? Everybody knows the world is cockeyed anyhow, tilted axis or not. But how do we celebrate that?
We don’t have to be pagans to acknowledge summer solstice, midsummer, the honey moon, first day of summer, or whatever anybody wants to call it. The day with the most daylight deserves observance, even without a toast to Wotan with a tankard of mead. We can celebrate by appreciating where we live illuminated by our beautiful High Plains sun longer than any other day. We can celebrate by spending more time outdoors with our kids, maybe putting burgers on the grill. How about a softball game with our friends?
Or we can simply pause a moment in the gift of all this sunshine and simply ponder our blessings. Have a great summer, friends.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: