15 Simple Ways to Celebrate Litha (Midsummer Sabbat)
Litha, also known Midsummer, is the official first day of summer and typically occurs around June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere and around December 21st in the Southern Hemisphere. The summer solstice is a liminal time, when the day is the longest it will be all year and the night is the shortest. We celebrate the warmth of the sun’s rays on us and its nourishing effect on the earth—on the plants, trees, and even the waters. Here is the history and meaning of Litha, as well as 15 SIMPLE ways to celebrate Litha this summer.
The Meaning of Litha
Midsummer is all about celebrating the sun. Our ancient ancestors believed the sun was the life force of the earth – it’s presence kept them warm and fed. Summer is a time when seeds sown during the Spring grow and begin to produce their fruits. In modern Wicca and some pagan traditions, the Goddess is thought to be in her Mother form during the Summer season, heavy with child (the God), preparing to give birth during the Harvest season.
What is Litha?
Litha is believed to be an ancient Germanic word for the months of June and July. The Anglo-Saxons brought Aerra Litha with them to the British Isles when they settled there in the 5th and 6th centuries AD. The Venerable Bede, an English monk and scholar, recorded the old Anglo-Saxon seasonal words which included Aerra Litha. The word Litha has a few potential translations. Some say it means “gentle” or “calm”, pointing to the fact the seas were calm enough to sail at that time. While others say Litha may refer to the moon.
According to Heathen author Galina Krasskova, the Midsummer Litha sabbat is only second in importance to Yule in modern Heathen practice. Litha rites for the Germanic peoples included sacrifices to the gods, prayers, and giving thanks. A boar was typically sacrificed to the god Freyr, just like at Yuletide. This was to show their gratitude for the community’s health and prosperity. Get-togethers were held around bonfires and leftovers from the boar and food were thrown into the fire as further offering to the gods. These traditions are carried on today.
Did the Celts Celebrate Litha?
So we know the Germanic peoples likely honored the Summer Solstice, but we also believe the ancient Celts did too. In their own way. They didn’t consider it a major holy-day, however. Those celebrations were reserved for Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. And they didn’t refer to it as Litha (since Litha is a Germanic word). Interestingly, the month of June was a scarce month in Ireland and the British Isles during the Celts’ time. The planting season had just passed and the peoples’ Winter stores were mostly gone by June. It makes sense to celebrate the sun in some way to appease the solar gods and hopefully bring a full bounty during the upcoming harvest season.
The Celts believed the Summer season belonged to the men and the Winter season belonged to the women. Summer actually began at Beltane and ended at Samhain (which actually means Summer’s End). Upon which Winter would commence and the female part of the year. Modern druids call the Summer Solstice Alban Hefin, which means the “Light of Summer”.
Why is Litha Sometimes Also Called Midsummer?
This is when people get confused with terminology. And I understand why. There are at least three names for this holiday because we have a melding of ancient cultural traditions AND time periods. Think of it this way – Litha is a Germanic word for the Summer Solstice holiday. While Midsummer is technically a word that means the Middle of Summer. But the Summer Solstice is technically the beginning of Summer, right? Not exactly.
To modern folk, the solstice marks the beginning of the Summer season for us. But centuries ago, and as mentioned in the Celtic section above, Beltane was the first day of Summer and it matched the seasons astronomically. Therefore, the middle of Summer was when the Sun was at its peak creating the longest day of the year. So when people say “Midsummer”, just remember that the dates and months and calendars, and the way we view the year, has changed over the years.
Summer Solstice (Litha) Magical Associations
|St. John’s Wort||Pork||Ruby||Freyr||Lizard|
“The Sun at Midsummer reaches that moment in His journey across the sky when His power peaks and in one magical instant begins to wane. Of course, to many of us, the weakening of the Sun’s fiery strength is barely discernible in the hot, dry month of June, but to the ancient Celts, in tune as they were with the rhythms of Nature, the Sun’s sea change was a significant event.” ~ Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth
15+ Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice Today
1. One Simple Way to Celebrate Litha: Get Outside!
Probably the easiest and most important way to celebrate the Midsummer sabbat is to get outside! This spiritual path is all about connecting with nature and the best way to do that is to be in nature. Even your backyard or neighborhood works!
2. Explore a Park or Forest
There are so many fun ways to celebrate Litha outside. What better day to go exploring in a nearby park or forest than on the Midsummer sabbat? If it’s extremely hot where you live, stay hydrated and if you run into a creek or river, take a dip!
3. Go to the Beach
Go to the beach to celebrate Litha. Not only do you have the sun to enjoy, the water is there too. This is the time when the sun moves into Cancer, which is a water sign. Fire and water together make summer one of the best seasons to go to the beach. Build a sandcastle near the water and let the ocean take it away, along with your worries. This is an easy and fun way to celebrate Midsummer.
4. Throw a Pool Party
Throw a pool party for friends and family. They don’t have to know it’s to celebrate Litha! Similar to the beach, you’ll soak up 2 of summer’s main elements: fire and water.
5. Greet the Sunrise
If it’s just too hot and you can’t take the heat, get up extra early and celebrate Litha by greeting the sunrise. Sip on your coffee and say hi to the sun OR practice some yoga sun salutations. Breathe in the sunshine.
6. Honor the Fairies with Fairy Houses
Litha is known throughout folklore and mythology to be a time when the fairies abound. What better way to celebrate the Midsummer sabbat than to honor the fairies? Make a fairy house for your yard or garden by hand or using a pre-made birdhouse from a craft store. You can have your kids (and you) paint the houses bright colors to appease the wee folk. Then hang or place the fairy houses around your garden or in the trees. Don’t place them too close to your house, as fairies can be rather mischievous and you might not want to invite extra mischief into your home on Midsummer (especially if you already have active pets or kids!)
7. Leave Fairy Offerings
Leave treats for the fairies. They particularly love sweets, for example: cakes, cookies, brownies, doughnuts, sweetbreads and more! They also adore milk, cream, butter, as well as a hearty alcoholic beverage. Some of the drinks they like are mead, wine, ale, and brandy. You can try almost any food or beverage but they typically like the sweet, boozy kind. Be sure to put some thought and effort behind your fairy offerings and don’t thank the fairies. They hate being thanked!
8. Celebrate Litha with a Feast
What is one thing that nearly everyone loves to do? Eat! A tasty way to celebrate Litha is to throw a feast. Our ancestors celebrated every holiday with a feast. Often the feasts would last for DAYS. Invite friends and family over (if you want to share) and have a large dinner or cook-out. Ask others to bring a dish for a potluck, this way you don’t end up buying and cooking food for lots of people. Some great summer dishes include: seafood (crab, shrimp, fish, oysters), beer-can chicken on the grill, watermelon, berries, lemonade, avocado, summer squash, and baked potatoes. Or have a pig roast and offer some of it to the gods, like the ancient Germanic peoples did.
9. Celebrate With Litha Arts and Crafts
An easy way to celebrate Litha with a little divine creativity is to get crafting! Fun crafts for Midsummer include: making suncatchers, crafting floral crowns or wreaths, dreamcatchers, craft a sun wheel, salt dough sun plaques, a Summer besom, etc.
10. Have a Bonfire
While the winter seems like the best time for a bonfire, the Litha sabbat is also a great time because it is a celebration of the fire element. To our ancestors, fire came from the sun and they honored it with large bonfires. The best time to do this is at night, sit around the fire, tell stories and make s’mores together.
11. Celebrate Litha With Divination
Fire and water scrying are two wonderful forms of divination that are especially effective on the Litha sabbat. If you have a bonfire, fire scrying should be easy. To scry with water, use a bowl filled with water or scry patterns in the ocean/lake, etc. Cloud scrying is also fun to do with others to celebrate Litha.
12. Refresh Your Altar for the Summer
If you haven’t already, Litha is a great time to clean, cleanse and re-decorate your altar for the Summer season. I like to take everything off of my altar, clean it, then cleanse it with smoke. Following that, I anoint my tools and altar with an oil that corresponds to the season. Orange, cinnamon, and spicy aromas are fitting. Then I add decorations to honor Litha and the sun. Decorate with red, yellow, orange and gold colors. Sun emblems and suncatchers are great altar additions.
13. Cast Spells for Fruition on Litha
Litha is a great time to cast spells for success, abundance, love, purification, protection and parenthood. Any seeds you’ve sown in the Spring are beginning to come to fruition in the Summer, as do your magical intentions. You’re growing your goals at this season. So by the time the harvest season rolls around, you’ll begin reaping what you sow. IE your intentions will manifest.
14. Pick Wildflowers
If you have a local field or forest, go out with a few friends/family members and pick wildflowers. Take your time doing this. Smell the flowers. Thank nature for its beauty. Take some home to make a bouquet for your altar.
15. Honor Sun Gods & Goddesses
An easy and spiritual way to celebrate Litha is to honor solar deities with offerings, prayers, etc. Some of the sun gods and goddesses include: Horus, Huitzilopochtli, Saule, Aine, Belenos, Helios, Etain, Yu Yi, Macha, Ra, Sunna, and more.
16. Focus on Your Goals
We plant our seeds of intention in the Spring, so in the Summer we nurture those intentions. An example – if you began searching for a new job in the Spring, and set your intentions. Then Summer comes and you should nurture that intention by networking, applying for jobs, following up in person, etc. So by the harvest season (late Summer into Autumn), you should see the results manifest.
17. Watch the Sunset
You greeted the sun on the longest day of the year, so why not tell it goodbye when it sets? I like watching the sun set over the water, if you have a local body of water where the sun goes down. Or just anywhere you can get a good view of it. As it sets, thank the sun for its life-giving rays and warmth. For life here on this planet.
Read More on the Seasons/Sabbats:
- Ostara’s Meaning, Traditions and a Simple Ostara Ritual
- 30+ Pagan Things to do in Spring
- Sabbats Made Easy: A Cheat Sheet to the Wheel of the Year
- 50+ Pagan Activities for Winter