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Merry Litha!

Today is the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice – or Litha, as it’s known in the Neo-Pagan community. The celebration of the longest day of the year has fallen out of fasion since Christianity was introduced … except for in Scandinavia, where we’re still stubbornly heathen in our ways and insist on celebrating Midsommar (“Midsummer”, go fig) the first Friday after the solstice.

Meaning back home, on Friday, there will be much merriment (read: drinking), and the traditional eating of new potatoes and matjessill (a particular spicing of pickled herring).

If you’ve got children, it’s likely there will also be dancing around the traditional midsommarstång – midsummer pole. If you needed convincing that the old solstice celebrations were a fertility ritual, look no further:

Subtle, it ain’t …

…And that’s the Christian version, where they made it into a cross, making it actually look phallic, as opposed to just being a euphemism for sex, being a pole with a ring around the top …

Anyway. Yes. Litha. Nature is at its most fertile, summer’s here and everything is lovely and green. Druids gather around Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice. The depressing thing about it is that while it means it’s the longest day of the year … it also means that we’re now heading toward the darker half of the year again. Sigh. At least the next Pagan holiday is the first harvest, and I like harvest festivals, not to mention early autumn. 🙂 Have a nice day everyone!

(You know what? I’m liking this. I think the theme for next year will be to write about Swedish holiday customs. I’ve touched on it on some of these Pagan festival posts, where they happen to overlap, but not gone into proper detail. There are plenty of things I could say about Midsummer, for instance, but have chosen not to, because it’s specifically about the Swedish celebration as opposed to the Pagan festival. Although I do remember combining the two quite successfully ten years ago!)

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on. Might get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

4 thoughts on “Merry Litha!

  1. I love the fact somewhere in the world we are still celebrating summer solstice! Scandinavia is on my bucket list. Perhaps I’ll have to time it to be there for Midsommar at some point…

  2. I always note the solstices and equinoxes, but have yet to really “celebrate” one in a good old-fashioned pagan way. I loved the images you provided, and definitely vote for you to blog more about Swedish festivities.

  3. I would love to know more about Swedish customs. I find it interesting that many holidays still exist around the same time as the Solstice. May Day with a May Pole (don’t they still do that in England?) Victoria Day in Canada has sort of taken the place of that. Canada and the U.S. have their national celebrations at the beginning of July (1st in Canada and 4th in U.S.) which is not long after the Solstice. Humans are creatures of habit after all. So when the reason doesn’t exist for the the celebration anymore, why we just make up a new reason and Party ON! 🙂

  4. calexora: I’d recommend going during the summer. That’s when it’s nicest and people are happy and cheerful – not depressed! 🙂

    JaneGS: Will do! Thanks! 🙂

    phylly3: Party, yay! 😀

    I’ve made a list of Swedish traditions and holidays … came up with 25. Heh. As I started with Yule for the Pagan year, I’m unsure if I’ll be starting in December or with the new year celebrations. Oh well, it’s months and months before then anyway. Any time after Samhain is the plan. Might start with advent. 🙂

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