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Celtic Summer Solstice Celebrations

Emma Reece

Posted on June 18 2016

The Summer Solstice is observed on June 21 to celebrate the longest day of the year all across the globe. In ancient times, the Celtics did not have clocks or calendars, so they measured the time often by the way the sunlight hit various passages in stone monuments set up for this exact purpose. The festival or celebration was called Alban Heruin. Traditionally, this was the time when the sun was at its highest point in the sky and shed three rays of light onto the world.

Standing Stone

The celebration is also commonly known as Midsummer’s Eve or Day. It is also called Tairisem in Ireland which means that the sun has stood still. Celebrations included feasts, picnics, bonfires and games all to honor the White Mare Goddess Éatain Eachraidhe who is also known as Rhiannon in Wales.


Sunlight would pass as the Midsummer Day approached into various passages in stone arrangements like that of Newgrange. It would light up a section of the stone precisely to indicate that the longest day of the year was approaching or had arrived. This usually was the 20th or 22nd of what we now call the month of June.

The sun still hits the various stone arrangements the same way as it did in ancient Druid times, which still indicates the arrival of the longest day of the year. In South Dublin, Ireland, the longest day makes itself known by the sun’s exact alignment over Lambay Volcano and a less famous monument than Stonehenge positioned on Tallaght Hill.


Bonfire


In Ireland and other countries around the world many people from all traditional backgrounds and religions strive to celebrate the Celtic Summer Solstice by having some kind of celebration. Either the celebrating happens on the current Summer Solstice or on the days preceding and following the naturally occurring Alban Heruin. This is a very spiritual time. Decorations of blue and green May Day ribbons are common as are feasts and picnics. Prayers of gratitude are given up under candlelight each evening. Herbs are often gathered at this time as they are at their most potent.

Today, people are clamoring to celebrate the Summer Solstice in Celtic traditions. There are places in Ireland where the celebrations happen in ancient places for the full five days of the Solstice. Some spots include the Hill of Tara in Ireland where Mandalas for peace are created on the ground. Drum circles are often held in various areas by the beach in the woods and other outdoor places where celebrants can honor the Earth and the Sun as closely and reverently as possible.

Mandala

Really, you can celebrate in any fashion as long as it pays gratitude to the sun, without which there would be no life on Earth. Visit Celtic-oriented festival websites to find out more information and to find out where specific Celtic summer celebrations are being held in Ireland. If you cannot get to Ireland to attend a festival, you can most certainly celebrate on your own wherever you live.

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