Tomorrow, 21.06.2015 we will be witnessing a world premiere: The first International Day of Yoga is taking place, as declared by the Indian Prime Minister in December, PLUS it's summer solstice!
The Summer Solstice
In ancient times, the date of the June Solstice was used to organize calendars and as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. Twice a year we celebrate the earth's closest tilt towards the sun. Tomorrow we will be celebrating summer solstice, or midsummer (remember Shakespeare's Midsummer Nights Dream?). The Sun reaches its highest position in the sky which means we will have the longest period of daylight, within the whole year. Only tomorrow!
Celebrating Femininity in China
In ancient China, the summer solstice was observed by a ceremony to celebrate the Earth, femininity, and the “yin” forces. It complemented the Winter Solstice that celebrated the heavens, masculinity and “yang” forces. According to Chinese tradition, the shortest shadow is found on the day of the Summer Solstice.
Honoring the Sun
In North America, some Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the Sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Preparations for the event included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).
Modern day celebrations
In northern European countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, Midsummer is a festive celebration. When the summer days are at their longest, and in the north it is the time of the Midnight Sun, festivals generally celebrate the summer and the fertility of the Earth. In Sweden and many parts of Finland people dance around Maypoles. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated with flower garlands, greenery, and tree branches.
If you have never tried Yoga before or have been reluctant to practice, tomorrow will be a great day to get in touch with likeminded people. There will be free Yoga classes all over the world, another good reason to join in!