Did you know tonight’s full moon is called the “Strawberry Moon”? Neither did we. Apparently, Algonquin tribes named it that because the June full moon tended to coincide with the best time to pick strawberries. This year, the Strawberry Moon happens to coincide with Summer Solstice—the longest day of the year, the official start of summer, and the day when the earth’s axis starts its 23.5 degree tilt away from the sun, marking the end of all hope and suntans.
The Solstice, by the way, is today.
Considering such a coincidence, and such exigent circumstances—and taking into account our desire to exploit any coincidence or exigent circumstances for drinking purposes—we figured we’d look into some appropriate Summer Solstice celebrations, around the globe and throughout time, so you might be able to put something together in time to wave goodbye to the sun and give that Strawberry Moon a hearty “wassup.”
Make Like the Druids (Sort of.)
According to Druidry.org, “of all the festivals, Druidry is mostly associated with Alban Hefin,” Alban Hefin being the Druid name for Summer Solstice. The term means “the light of the shore,” a reference to the transience which the solstice marks (Druids were apparently very interested in ‘in between’ places, moments or physical markers of change and transition). No surprise, modern day practicing Druids will show up at Stonehenge—which, not coincidentally, aligns with the rising of the solstice sun. But since you probably can’t get there, you can at least drink in imitation of the Druids. No surprise they had a rich plant lore, which included use of things like burdock, dandelion, and birch sap (the last of which makes us think of Fernet?), but your best authentic bet is mead, which the Druids drank ceremoniously and which is more available now than ever.
Have a Tyrolian Fire. And wine.
Remember that scene in Lord of the Rings when they light the beacons of Gondor, mustering the Rohirrim to come to Gondor’s aid? (Sorry, little brother, I absolutely had to look that one up.) Summer Solstice in the mountains of Tyrol look kind of like that. “Alpine areas have for centuries heralded the sun with fires on the mountain,” according to the Wilder Kaiser alpine region website. These are “the solstice fires in Tyrol.” Assuming you can’t get to the Alps, or anywhere safe, and safely legal, to light a massive bonfire, our recommendation is this: light a safe, contained, legal fire with friends and drink some delicious wine from the prolific and Alto Adige/South-Tyrol region.
Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration
Another way to solstice like they do in wine country, this time in California. Santa Barbara hosts a yearly parade to mark the summer solstice. This year, the parade theme is “Legends” (think Robin Hood, Camelot, Shangri-La, or so they recommend), though the event is actually far more multi-faceted. There are performers, various local vendors, and a massive Community Arts Workshop. Meaning if you want to celebrate the Santa Barbara way, get some of your friends together for an arts-and-crafts themed night, and ask everyone to bring a bottle of Santa Barbara wine (or something from a nearby region, fair enough).
Knock Back Swedish Vodka and Raw Fish.
In Sweden, “Midsommar” is a big deal. And they do it up almost as awesomely as they do up Christmas. Picture festive maypoles, floral crowns, Schnapps, vodka, and lots (oh so much) pickled herring. In Sweden, the Summer Solstice actually marks a day where the sun never actually sets, which makes going all out all the more understandable. Generally, Swedish Midsommar is celebrated in the countryside, so if you can get yourself somewhere outdoorsy, or even chuck a nice nature screensaver on your computer, you’re off to a good start. Pickled herring isn’t a must, though new potatoes and strawberries and springy foods are a good idea. As is Swedish vodka and (good, as in not Peppermint) schnapps.