The Summer Solstice

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

The Summer Solstice falls on 21st June. This is the longest day of the year, when the Sun is at its highest point of the year in the northern hemisphere. In ancient pagan societies the Summer Solstice was hugely significant, it was a time when the power of the Sun was at its highest and was seen as an important time for fertility, when the harvests of the coming year were blessed.

When Christianity entered the pagan areas rather than displace the practices of the old religion it simply incorporated many of them into its own observances under a new name. Because of this, many pagan traditions survive up to the present day. Great fire festivals are celebrated in many European countries and Midsummer is especially important in the cultures of Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltics where it is the most celebrated holiday apart from Christmas and New Year’s Eve…

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