Summer officially arrives today at 1:16pm EST. Hooray! We’re not sure what we’ll be doing at the exact moment that the Earth’s “axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun at its maximum of 23° 26′” (thanks Wikipedia) but we do know we might have to drink an extra cup or two tomorrow to get through the longest day of the year.
Civilizations have long celebrated the summer solstice for both practical and spiritual reasons. The arrival of Midsummer signaled that the long, cold winter was finally over and the season of fertility had begun.
The Pagans called the Midsummer moon the “Honey Moon” for the ceremonial wedding mead made from fermented honey. It’s still believed that Midsummer is the best time to cultivate honey. It was also thought to be a time of magic when evil spirits appeared. The Pagans wore garlands of flowers and herbs chief among them was “chase-devil” which is known to us as Sy. John’s Wort and is often used as a natural alternative to antidepresents.
The ancient Chinese celebrated the earth, the feminine and the forces of Yin during their summer solstice celebrations. In contrast their winter solstice celebrated the heavens, the masculine and yang energy.
In ancient Rome this time of year brought the festival of Vestalia. The festival honored the Roman Goddess of the hearth, Vesta. Married women were able to enter the shrine of Vesta during the festival. At other times of the year, only the vestal virgins were permitted inside.
The ancient Gaul’s celebrate the Feast of Epona at Midsummer, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility, sovereignty and agriculture. She was portrayed as a woman riding a mare.
Salsbury Plain in Wiltshire England is home to the most famous pre-historic megalith on earth, Stonehenge. While scientists and archeologists have been studying it for decades, we can only speculate about the significance of the summer solstice to those who built it. However it must have been incredibly meaningful to the civilization that built it as it took close to 1500 years for the henge to be completed. “The circular bank and ditch, double circle of ‘bluestones’ , and circle of sarsen stones, are concentric, and the main axis is aligned on the midsummer sunrise–an orientation that was probably for ritual rather than scientific purposes.
However you choose to celebrate Midsummer, we here at Hudson Coffee Traders wish you a fruitful and happy summer!
PS. Did you know that at the end of every month we pull a name out of a hat and give a free bag of coffee to the winner? Well, it’s true. Do you want a shot at getting your name in that hat? All you have to do is leave a comment here, retweet or re-post a link to Facebook and leave the rest to fate and the hand that pulls the names out of the hat.