What is Midsummer / Liþa?

The Summer Solstice can sometimes be called Midsummer / Liþa (Litha,) and it occurs on the longest day of the year, which this year is the 21st of June. And to quote Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming”, which means the nights will start to get longer and colder.

Midsummer / Liþa is one of the 8 Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year for modern Heathens, (the wheel of the year for Pagans differs slightly.) Midsummer / Liþa has a long history and is mentioned briefly in the Icelandic Sagas (think poems) and is connected to Olav Tryggvason, although no mention of how it was celebrated is written. Although in the 16th & 17th centuries, there are written sources that give us clues to is the origin. The now iconic Maypole likely came about during the 17th century as people gathered and danced around fires in their local towns.

Now we don’t know how our ancestors celebrated Midsummer before the Christianisation of Europe so how can modern Heathen’s/Pagan’s still celebrate it. Well, modern Midsummer celebrations are fairly pagan, with a focus on a celebration of life, love and the light of the sun. There is also much folklore surrounding Midsummer, with a few being:

  • Climbing over nine fences to pick nine kinds of flowers to put them under one’s pillow at night to dream of one’s future spouse.
  • The dew on this day is said to be a potent medicine.
  • And drinking from wells will cure illness on this day.

I could go on into more of the history around this festival including how it relates to the Viking gods Frey, Freyja, Sol, Thor and Sif but that’s not for here.

Today I will celebrate everything the Summer will bring, with our wedding getting ever closer. I will also be honouring my Grandad Pete, who passed away in 2004 as today was the great man’s birthday.

Gareth

*Note – All this information I have gathered over the years from my own research, books and of course Wikipedia. If you would like a simpler version read this article on the Huffington Post.

Midsummer / Liþa – The Summer Solstice
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