Midsummer: The Summer Solstice
Midsummer (also known as Litha) falls on the summer solstice, sometime between June 20 to 23, and it marks the start of the astrological sign Cancer. On this day, the god has reached the peak of his power, signified by the fact that it is the longest day of the year. After the summer solstice, his power begins to weaken until he dies (in some traditions, he dies at Midsummer). The second battle between the Oak King and the Holly King takes place on Midsummer, but this time the Holly King wins, and he rules until Yule.
Midsummer is a fire festival in honor of the great power of the sun, and even today some northern nations like Sweden feature all-night parties on the night when the sun never sets. To celebrate this day, it is traditional to drink mead, a wine made of honey. The colors of this festival are yellows, reds, oranges, and golds, and the appropriate flowers for decorating the altar are Saint John's wort, rose, angelica, and yarrow.
A popular practice for Midsummer is to burn the wickerman (a symbol of the god) with wishes for the coming year tucked inside it. The burning of the wickerman is not a symbolic sacrifice, as some outside the Pagan community wish to view it, but rather a way to transmit the wishes to the gods. The smoke carries the requests to them. Midsummer is another traditional day for bonfire leaping and handfastings. Making contact with faeries is easier on this day than on many others. Goddesses such as Freya, the Mother Goddess, Arianrhod, Flora, and Amaterasu (Japanese sun goddess), are appropriate. Gods to consider include Apollo, Bel, Lug, and Helios.
Even though it is referred to as Midsummer, the summer solstice is actually the first day of summer. The term derives from European farming because the date marks the midway point of the growing season.