On June 21st, we will be celebrating the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year. While I will be putting up a separate post which talks about this particular day and what it means in the Pagan Wheel of the Year, I thought that perhaps my readers would like to know how they could join in the celebrations…regardless of your own spiritual path.
Whether you are Pagan or Christian or Jewish or Muslim or Hindu or whatever… this can still be a fun day for celebrating summer – school is out, the sun is shining, the weather is nice and warm, and it’s a good time for gathering with friends.
One way of celebrating the day is with food – after all, we all like to eat, right?
So what kinds of foods are traditional for celebrating the Summer Solstice?
Since this is a day that honors the sun, many recipes take advantage of foods that relate to the sun in some way. This can include foods that are of a sunny color – red, yellow, and orange.
Think of fruits such as cantaloupe, peaches, mangos, apricots, papayas, pineapple, bananas, strawberries, and cherries; plus citrus fruits such lemons, oranges, and grapefruit. You might want to consider making a fruit salad that uses some of these.
As for vegetables, consider yellow summer squash, and feel free to use zucchini squash as well, since it is a popular summer vegetable, even if it is green. Other vegetables include tomatoes; red, yellow, and orange peppers; and carrots. Cucumbers are also often eaten for this holiday – even though they are green, much like zucchini they are popular at this time of the year.
June was traditionally the month of gathering the honey from the hives, and thus honey is a common ingredient in a number of Solstice recipes. This was also a time for partaking of the mead, which is an alcoholic beverage made from honey and water that is left to ferment. Many Summer Solstice celebrations include opening a bottle of mead and passing it around!
Another tradition of this time is the gathering of herbs, many of which would then be hung up to dry so they can then be stored in jars and used during the colder months. However, fresh herbs often find their way into various Solstice recipes also.
Besides looking at the colors, one can also consider those foods, herbs, and spices that are considered sacred to the Sun. Although different sources will give varying and sometimes conflicting information in regards to such; based upon my own knowledge and research the following are examples of those edibles considered to be ruled by the Sun:
- Bay Leaf
- Lemon Grass
In addition, because the Summer Solstice was/is considered a fire festival amongst most cultures and thus often celebrated through the use of bonfires – which can be seen as a representation of the Sun and the God – one can also add to the above list with foods considered sacred to the element of Fire. Not all of these edibles are ruled by the Sun; nevertheless, they can be seen as appropriate for recipes celebrating the Summer Solstice:
- Cayenne Pepper
- Chili Pepper
Finally, we have those foods said to be ruled by the astrological sign of Leo, which is a Fire sign represented by the Sun. Yes…I know it’s not the time of Leo, which doesn’t occur until the middle of July – but due to the Sun and the Fire, I thought I’d list these anyway:
- Sweet Corn
With all of the above information, it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with dishes which incorporate one or more of the ingredients listed!
Some tips to keep in mind are:
- Instead of red meat, consider cooking chicken, fish (especially salmon) or seafood
- For meatless dishes, consider pasta, rice, or beans
- Use plenty of fresh herbs
- Think about using nuts – almonds, walnuts, or cashews
- Make or buy bread that has sunflower seeds in it, or uses sesame seeds
- Cook fiery recipes that have some heat to them – chili peppers, curry, garlic, etc.
- Use honey instead of sugar, or recipes that include honey
- Think about dishes that have sunny colors – yellow, gold, red, orange
- Use fresh ingredients commonly found at this time of the year
- Beverages can include lemonade, tea, herbal teas such as mint or chamomile, mead or ale
- consider firing up the grill and cooking your meal outdoors – this can be a good way to show homage to the element of fire, and the concept of fire festivals
Whatever dishes you do decide to cook, use the Summer Solstice as a time of celebration. Invite your friends and have a Solstice Party! If you have to wait until Friday evening or the weekend to do so, that’s okay – the important thing is to take the time to honor the Sun and remember how important it is in our lives. Food is important in our lives too… so get out your pots and pans, make a trip to the Farmer’s Market, and create some yummy dishes!
Just be sure to save me the leftovers.