A Summer Solstice Soiree

JUN 17

With some tough weather under our belt, I have no doubt that the first day of summer is one we can all look forward to. A time of rest, relaxation, BBQs, and vacations, when summer is in the air, I can't help but feel like a school girl facing three months of blissful freedom! On Friday, June 21st, the sun will appear highest in the sky, making this day the longest of the year. It is the first day of summer.

The summer solstice has been celebrated throughout history by many civilizations. In ancient Egypt the summer solstice coincided with the flooding of the Nile, a time when festivals were held in honor of the goddess Isis who was said to fill the river with her tears. This day was so important to the Ancient Greeks that it was the first day on their calendar.  In the East, the summer solstice was a time for the ancient Chinese to hold rituals paying tribute to the earth, femininity and the force known as yin.  Many Germanic, Slavic and Celtic clans welcomed summer with bonfires; it was said that whoever could jump the highest through a ceremonial ring of fire set the height for that season's crops. On the more practical side of things, the summer solstice was a time for Nordic seafarers to meet and discuss legal matters and resolve disputes between neighbors. And in our own country, many Native American tribes performed (and still do perform) the solstice-ritual of the sun dance around a tree. Nowadays the first day of summer may come and go without much hoopla, but you could change that! Start your own tradition and host a solstice soiree!

To get started, might I make a few party planning recommendations: In honor of summer, there should be lots of garden color. Arrange pots of annuals and/or perennials to brighten up your space. Since this is the longest day of the year, celebrate with color that stands out even when the sun sets: white blooms not only offer striking accents during the day, they also show up beautifully at night giving your space a glowing effect. A garden of iridescence could include: white varieties of Summersweet, hydrangea, roses, hibiscus, penstemon, dianthus, petunias, vinca, etc. To enhance the garden glow, let the summer work its magic and put solar lights around your party area. Burn candles (try citronella candles to keep those mosquitoes away…they have a tendency to crash summer parties) or as an alternative, consider using firepots. Fill pitchers of cool, summer drinks; the classic lemonade and ice tea go a long way. Try blending frozen lemonade concentrate with fresh mint leaves and vodka for a grown up slushy salute to summer. Or a white sangria might do the trick. Now fire up the grill and you're ready to get the party started! It might not be anything like jumping through hoops of fire or doing a sun dance (no judgment here if it is!), but my guess is your garden party will be a perfect a warm welcome for summer's arrival!