As summer edges closer and closer, and the day of solstice approaches, it is often a time for lightheartedness and laughter. Evenings are brighter, you can spend more time outdoors and in contact with nature and your general vibe is mellow and happy. Even thoughts that seemed to annoy you in the winter months are not so bad now and you may find yourself even enjoying mundane daily tasks. Life is simply better in summer.
It is for this reason that I happily embrace the tradition of bonfire night held on the night of Saint John. Usually between June 19 and June 25, many cultures celebrate Midsummer by lighting fires to protect against evil spirits that may be heading south as the Earth changes its axis towards the sun.
The Traditions of Summer Solstice
Even historically, many cultures were known to mark the phase of solstice, such as the Romans who would have a festival in honour of the nocturnal god of thunder, Summanus. Each country acknowledges this day in its own way. In France they have Fête de la Musique, and in Sweden people make flower crowns and dance around maypoles. There are many traditions regarding this specific celebration, though perhaps the most famous celebrations that are carried out today are held in Spain.
Out With The Old, in With The New
I personally found La Hoguera (as it is known in spanish) very powerful and magical. On the night of San Juan, everybody gathers on the beach and awaits for the sun to set. Large bonfires are placed along the shore and usually at the main dock there is a large witch made out of wood and sticks which is burnt around midnight. Anyone who wishes to, can make a little circle in the sand with flowers and incense. Candles are placed in the middle and you are meant to prepare a short list of negative things you would like to rid yourself of. Once all the fires are lit, and the flames are tame enough, you must burn your paper of negative thoughts and jump over the flame three times.
Regardless of whether you believe in getting rid of negative energies by burning bonfires or protecting yourself against evil, the celebrations of the night of Saint John are a way of spreading positivity. It is a time to welcome change. The beginning of a new season and a new chapter of the year. I believe that it is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life. The powerful energy of unity and hope might not get rid of all of your problems, but just might spark a little flame within you.