I was both saddened and amused to read the headline "Solstice 2021 at Stonehenge cancelled" when I googled to look for information about the upcoming festival. One thing I am sure of, is that while large gatherings may still not be allowed under the COVID restrictions, the sun is very much still out there doing its thing, moving towards the highest point above the celestial equator, and the earth continues to tilt towards it. Although the solstice is celebrated on just the one day, the actual position of the sun at noon, varies very little for a couple of days before and after the official solstice, and the days from 21st to 23rd are the same length. This was something that was talked about at Tea with a Druid last Monday, which is recorded here if it interests you. So these 3 days act as a natural pause in the year, and pausing is good. Of course the solstice is also the astronomical start of summer, but just to be confusing, is also celebrated as midsummer.
For those of us who don't live anywhere near Stonehenge, the fact that the gatherings are not allowed is good news, as both the sunset on Sunday night and sunrise on Monday morning will be live-streamed via the English Heritage facebook page, so you can have your own celebration. It does still require you to get up at 4.00am however.
The statistic that surprised me most in the Nature and Me booklet from the National Trust, was the one that states that only 5% of adults celebrate natural events like the longest day. If you're one of the 95% why not change that this Monday? It's not like Mondays are a traditionally cheerful day, and this Monday is going to be the longest day of the year. Why not improve it with a celebration of some kind? Ideally one that might connect you to nature. Last year I had lots of fun making a solstice mandala in the photo above. Perhaps you could make a daisy or buttercup chain crown, or maybe your garden / local park is more well-kempt than my own! We seem to be swimming in buttercups and daisies here, and to be honest, it's not a bad thing! Maybe just serve some Scottish strawberries for dessert on Monday night - these days when you can buy strawberries all year round if you are so inclined, it's good to celebrate local produce - and my word, don't they taste so much better? No-one will be surprised by my final suggestion, if all else fails, take your cup of tea (or your water bottle) outside and sit down somewhere quiet. You could even practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique that we were taught on our Wild Wellbeing session with Scottish Badgers. That's 5 things you can see around you, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can touch, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste.
Happy Solstice folks!