How to Celebrate Litha (the Summer Solstice) with Children

In the natural world, we are at the peak of the growing season and all around us (in the northern hemisphere, at least) flowers are blooming and crops are coming to fruition.

We can feel this energy within ourselves as well. The dreams we’ve been nurturing are beginning to bear fruit and we may have a strong desire to take action in bringing our visions to life.

As always I wanted to share some ideas for celebrating this festival, Litha (or the summer solstice), with children to help our families tune into the turning of the wheel and align our lives with the natural rhythms of the seasons.

Forage elderflowers and make cordial.
The elderflower bushes are in full bloom and these flowers are traditionally associated with the Summer Solstice and the Mother Goddess, offering healing properties that aid in renewal and personal transformation. This recipe is free of refined sugars so is a bit better for children than traditional recipes (and you can always make traditional elderflower champagne for the grown ups).

Start a dream journal or spend some time discussing your dreams over breakfast.
Dreamtime is particularly potent during the summer solstice. Your child could draw pictures of their dreams or narrate them for you to transcribe if they aren’t able to write yet. How did these dreams make them feel? Do they relate to their daily lives? Has their dream inspired them at all?

Craft flower crowns.
Buy blooms from the supermarket or pick some from your garden if you have one. You can use thin wire to hold them together and they’ll make the perfect adornments for your solstice celebrations. This activity is the perfect accompaniment to storytelling. Perhaps you’ll weave a tale about children going on a walk through a beautiful meadow on the longest day of the year and the fairies who weave flowers into their hair. Or maybe you’ll tell of the children helping their grandmother in the garden. She tells them about the magical properties of each of the flowers she grows and creates beautiful crowns for them to wear so that they can soak up this magic during the solstice.

Grow a fairy garden.
Fill a shallow dish with soil and wet it thoroughly. Fill the dish with wheat berries/groats and then cover with another thing layer of soil. Leave a note from the fairies asking your child to help lightly water the garden everyday. Within a few days green shoots will begin poking through the soil. Perhaps the fairies will leave pretty stones and natural treasures to help decorate the garden.

Make herb pillows.
Help your child to sew a small bag about 10cm square. Let them fill it with dried herbs (lemon balm, mugwort, lavender, and hops are traditional) before sewing it closed. Slip the pillow into their pillowcase to promote good sleep and sweet dreams.

Take herbal baths.
Similar to the herb pillow, sew a small muslin bag to fill with dried herbs. Chamomile, rose, and lavender are all lovely for relaxation and celebrating the flower power of the season. Put it in while running your child’s bath for a delightful sensory experience.

Add items to your family altar or nature table.
Roses, St. John’s Wort, oak leaves, symbols of the sun (perhaps your child could paint a sun on a stone they’ve found), yellow cloth, and herb plants would all be traditional items to choose.

Wear yellow.
Celebrate the longest day of the year and the power of the sun with bright yellow clothing.

Paint with yellow.
This is a great opportunity to have your child do wet-on-wet watercolour painting with yellow paint while you tell a story about the longest day of the year.

Read about the solstice.
The Longest Day, The Solstice Badger, Mermaid Dance, and Welcome, Summer! are all lovely choices for children. This collection from Wynstone Press is full of poems, songs, and stories to celebrate summer. 

Go on a flower power walk.
So many flowers are in bloom at this time of year but soon they’ll be pollinated, the petals will drop, and the plants will go to seed. Celebrate the flower power of the solstice by going for a walk to see if you can find blossoms in every colour of the rainbow. Take pictures of your finds or, if appropriate, pick a few to adorn your family table.

Create a feast that celebrates the season.
Asparagus, tomatoes, fresh herbs, samphire, carrots, broad beans, mushrooms, summer greens, salad, celery, and berries are plentiful in the UK this time of year. Highlight the flavours of the season in your family meal. For ease, you could buy a seasonal recipe box from a company like Riverford. Decorate the table, light a candle, and pour glasses of elderflower cordial if you’ve made some. Give thanks for the bounty of this season, perhaps by introducing a mealtime blessing, or having each family member discuss what they’re grateful for.

Here’s a lovely summer solstice verse to memorize and recite with your children:

The Light of the Sun sends Love to me, 
It shines for all the World, 
Let my heart shine with Light and Love, 
And stronger ever to grow, 
That in my heart a sun may shine, 
With Love for all the World.

If you like to give alongside the seasonal festivals, a flower fairy, a yellow or rainbow play silk, a herb plant to take care of, or a book of poetry about flowers (we love this one and this one) would all be appropriate.

Do you have any family traditions for celebrating the summer solstice? I’d love to hear!

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