Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wiccan/Pagan Holiday: Litha or Summer Solstice

Litha also called Summer Solstice--approximately June 21

Litha, also called mid summer, is a Pagan holiday, which is celebrated on the Summer Solstice and is the longest day of the year. It is the first of the harvest festivals as the early fruits and vegetables have begun to ripen. Plants picked on this eve are also thought to contain extra healing powers. Special herbs were harvested and dried to be used for the rest of the year to heal the body and the soul. Water is also collected on this day to be blessed on the next full moon and used through out the year in rituals.

Traditionally the God’s energy is celebrated with his reign being the longest on this day. Bonfires are lit near bodies of water as the positive male aspects are honored. Many men, especially those following the Saxon traditions, used this day to reinforce their faith in the God and to test their courage by performing the Wild Man rite. Festivities also include picnics, bonfires to keep away evil spirits, and competitions to prove an individuals skill with weapons and in battle. However, the goal is more for bragging rights than for a warrior’s ranking.

Litha is also the day to honor the earth spirits with cakes and sweets from the ripening fruits and early vegetables. By offering them gifts, you are more able to enjoy their good humor and learn their wisdom. It is a way to obtain their favor for the rest of the year.

However, this Pagan holiday was Christianized and renamed the Feast of Saint John the Baptist. However, unlike with most saints, it is a celebration of his birthday instead of the anniversary of his death. It was a way of connecting and transferring the Pagan celebrations into the Christian faith.

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