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The spiritual meaning of the summer solstice — and rituals to celebrate the longest day of the year

You might not be able to attend a large solstice gathering in the Alps or Alaska, but you can stage one of your own.

The summer solstice marks the first day of the summer season. In the northern hemisphere, the 2023 summer solstice begins on Wednesday, June 21.

The summer solstice is also the longest day of the year — and, if you look carefully, you can almost tell. On this day, which occurs at the start of both summer, the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. At the apex, the sun appears to stand still. The word's meaning points to the optical illusion: "Solstice” derives from the Latin word for “sol” (sun) and “sisto” (stop).

Once a staple for ancient civilizations' festivities, the summer solstice continues to be celebrated around the world: Midsummer festivals in Sweden, mountaintop bonfires in the Austrian Alps, the Midnight Sun Baseball Game in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Say you can't go somewhere near the Arctic where there's nearly 22 hours of sunlight on the solstice to participate in one of those celebrations. You can still honor the spiritual meaning of the day — all about renewal, hope and optimism — by enacting a few astrologer-approved rituals, which we'll detail below.

Rituals for the summer solstice, according to an astrologer

Get energized with yoga

Honor the sun by doing salutations in the morning at sunrise and in the evening at sunset. Let your yoga poses calm your heart, open your mind and get blood flowing. If you're new to yoga, try out these poses.

Take a walk

It's simple! Relish in the changing seasons by going for a stroll for no reason other than connecting with nature. And if you find you come home with a smile on your face, check out our monthlong walking plan.

Go swimming

June 21 marks the onset of Cancer season, a water sign. To celebrate the zodiac's crab, take a dip into a pool, lake or the ocean. As you dip your toes in the water, state your intentions for summer. It's a private, meaningful ritual.

Light a candle

Have a mini solstice festival in your home by lighting a candle, a sliver of the energy of the sun. If you're feeling inspired, put on some music and dance.

Be social

Celebrate the solstice with friends. Invite your closest pals over. Sharing laughs and making memories is especially important during Cancer season, when we're prone to isolating in nostalgia. Better to share that feeling with others


The solstice is an opportunity for a deep meditation. Newbies can find some tips for sinking into deep meditation here. Long story short, a bit of stillness at the start of the day may lead to a sense of tranquility you carry with you all day.

Write a letter

Write a letter of appreciation to someone who has given you guidance.

Tend to your garden

The solstice is an excellent time to embrace your green thumb. While you work with plants — whether planting flowers or rearranging a bouquet — meditation on what you hope to come to fruition in the months to come.

Let it go!

Do some spiritual cleaning, which will hopefully leave you with a sense of gratitude. Focus the good things you have going on — get as granular as you need to. Write it down in a gratitude journal, and do it again tomorrow.

Take a bath

Take a bath to lean into the water element of Cancer season. Add lavender and play some tunes to relax even further. It's important to relax during the solstice to release resentments and bring in fresh energy.  

Clean your house

Who needs summer reading when you have solstice cleaning? After tidying up, add some intentional aromas — like a spritz of citrus for reinvigoration — to places you pass by often.