Summer -- A Celebration of Sun and Earth

Summer -- A Celebration of Sun and Earth

Summer – A Celebration of Sun and Earth

Sophia Harmes, Ph.D.

Celebrating the sun and Earth is a common occurrence in the summer.  We begin our devotion to the sun and Earth that provides energy, food, and warmth as we enjoy the rebirth and blooming of the season.  Spring brings the first planting of seeds for the growing season.   Farmers utilize the sun and Earth for planting and cultivation.  Families are busy preparing yards, gardens and flower beds for spring and summer growth and enjoyment.  Households prepare for summer family vacations.  The sun is celebrated on the summer solstice that occurs in June.  April 22, Earth Day, is typically the day we celebrate the Earth.  Worldwide, on this day, events are planned that support and promote the protection and restoration of the environment.  During the summer we celebrate the Earth through the activities we engage in outdoors and an awareness of ways to prevent environmental degradation.   Celebrating the sun and Earth provides benefits to health and wellness in a variety of ways.

Historical perspective of celebrating the Sun 

Astronomically the sun is celebrated twice a year.  The first observance of the sun occurs during the winter solstice, signifying rebirth. This is the time when the sun begins its journey from the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, to the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. The summer solstice signifies the diminishing sun as the length of sunlight declines from the longest day of the year to the shortest day, the winter solstice.

Historical celebrations of the sun is an event occurring on the summer and winter solstices.  Monuments such as Stonehenge have been erected to signify the occurrence of the solstices.  Rituals continue to be performed around the world that celebrate them.  Historically, early humans may have used the summer solstice as an annual signal for the time to plant or harvest their crops (depending on the hemisphere).  Ancient Greeks considered the summer solstice as the beginning of the new year. Germanic, Slavic, and Celtic tribes typically celebrated the summer solstice with bonfires to enhance the sun’s energy thus ensuring a good harvest. Bonfires during this celebration were also believed to ward off any evil spirits.   Another traditional summer solstice activity was to use the ashes from the celebration bonfires to create an amulet for protection or spread the ashes on gardens and fields to ensure a good harvest for the year.  Some celebrations incorporated a sunwheel or a ball made of straw that was set on fire. The flaming sunwheel or straw ball was rolled down a hill towards a river or other water body.  If the fire did not go out before hitting the water the harvest would not be a good one.  Many European countries have maintained these traditions in their celebrations accompanied with fiddling, folk dancing, and maypole festivals.  Changes to these celebrations and rituals occurred with the popularity of Christianity.  The church incorporated these festivities with the Christian St. John the Baptist’s Day (St. John’s Day) which occurs a few days following the true summer solstice on June 24. 

Contemporary summer solstice observances are associated with Litha, a non-Christian festival/celebration.  Litha is held on the eve of the summer solstice and focuses on honoring the power of the sun, healing, and fertility.  Celebration participants wear garlands made with fresh flowers and herbs that possess protective properties which they believe safeguard against evil spirits.  A popular herb woven in the garland is St. John’s Wort because of its association with the Christian celebration of St. John’s Day.  

Health Benefits Associated with Celebrating the Sun

Spending time outdoors in the summer is good for health and wellness.  Generally, every summer we spend a lot of time in the sun.  Our bodies absorb its rays providing an all-natural dose of vitamin D.  We grab a hat, sunscreen, and sandals to enjoy a leisurely sun-filled day.  Basking in the sun or leisure under a shade tree while reading a book, swimming, gardening, or just relaxing lowers stress.  Spending the day with family and friends by having a picnic or a cookout, telling stories, playing outdoor games, hiking, etc. is healthful for the heart.  These activities strengthen and enhance relationships and create wonderful memories of the time spent together.

Even planning a vacation is beneficial as it promotes a sense of happiness.  Health benefits associated with an annual vacation include reduced stress, a better attitude about life, greater motivation and success in achieving goals, and lower heart disease risk.  The relaxation from a vacation helps to increase mental capacity and decrease burnout.  Planning a vacation provides excitement in deciding where to go and the process in organizing the trip.  Getting away from work reduces stress and anxiety even while planning that vacation.  Other activities of summer that benefit health and wellness include festivals and fairs, outdoor farmer’s markets, concerts, ball games and family reunions.   

History and Importance of Celebrating the Earth 


Historically, the first Earth Day was officially established and celebrated on April 22, 1970.  The importance of this event was to bring awareness to the growing problems of the increasing environmental degradation of the Earth.  Air pollution from factories emitting smoke and sludge was so bad it shielded large cities from the sun and created respiratory ailments.  Water pollution increased as a result of municipal and manufacturing dumping of untreated waste directly into waterways.  Land degradation worsened from improper and unsustainable farming techniques, factory dumping, unregulated mining activities and the overuse of chemical pesticides and herbicides.  The onslaught of the environment led to increased species extinction.  This prompted Rachel Carson, in 1962, to write the Silent Spring.  Carson’s book was instrumental in informing the public of the growing environmental degradation in the United States.  The book also established the connection between human health and environmental degradation.  This book and the first Earth Day would become the catalysts for the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Since then, each year Earth Day has been celebrated on April 22.  Generally, contemporary Earth Day observances focus on bringing awareness to environmental issues that include protecting endangered species, climate change, environmental destruction of the oceans and ocean species, deforestation, desertification and biodiversity loss and clean energy options.  There is a need to celebrate Earth Day more than just one day every year therefore, celebrating the Earth should be a daily occurrence. 

There are a variety of things to practice daily in celebrating the Earth.  Turn off lights when exiting a room or leaving home.  Recycle items that can be recycled.  Reuse or repurpose unused or unwanted items rather than throwing them away.  Plant a garden and trees to help improve air quality and reduce soil erosion.  Wait to run the dishwasher or washing machine until there is a full load.  Walk to local destinations instead of driving or use public transportation or carpooling.  Switch to using cloth products in place of paper products, i.e. napkins, diapers, paper plates.  Save energy by hanging clothes out to dry on a wash line instead of throwing them in the dryer.  Pick up and properly dispose of trash.

There are many beneficial activities that can be done with family and friends to create awareness and education on ways to help the Earth.  Pay a visit to the local recycling center and water treatment plants to understand these processes and how proper management can protect the environment.  Create a garden compost area from non-meat table scraps to use on vegetable and flower beds.  Look for and attend activities and programs that plant trees, clean streets and highways, or help restore degraded areas in your community.  Purchase products produced sustainably with little environmental impact.   Spend time outdoors by visiting a zoo or nature preserve, go on a hike or nature walk, go to the park, or take walks to enjoy the beauty around you.  All these activities promote sustainability and enable us to celebrate the Earth.

A fun way to celebrate the Sun and Earth together is to go on an eco-vacation.  An eco-vacation can be done through ecotourism.  Ecotourism promotes responsible travel and is a way to learn about local cultures.  Going on wilderness adventures teaches about the local habitat and animals.  Ecotourism involves volunteering and learning different ways that we can sustainably live on Earth.  The primary attractions in ecotourism are not ‘tourist destinations’, but the local vegetation, people and wildlife.  

Health Benefits Associated with Celebrating the Earth

Observing the Earth daily creates satisfaction in knowing that you are doing your part in protecting our habitat.  Focusing on a sustainable environment benefits our health and wellness by removing pollution that adversely affects human health.  Stress levels improve when we help restore or revitalize our neighborhood or community.  Through ecotourism one gains an appreciation for what one has increasing gratitude and happiness.  A great memorable learning experience increases our understanding of the Earth and our connection to it.  There is overall satisfaction in participating to make the Earth a better place to live.  In addition, there are benefits to wildlife and their environment through an intimate look at their life and habitat.  This creates an understanding of how the Earth is being destroyed and what can be done to protect it.  Local populations benefit from the revenue generated through ecotourism.  This activity also helps local people to preserve, conserve and remain on their ancestral lands.  As the traveler, the benefits include a greater appreciation for the earth, wildlife, and different cultures.  The activities discussed above help in personal growth and happiness while creating a sustainable and healthy environment.


Although celebration of the sun and Earth is largely practiced in the summer, they should be remembered daily.  Engage in any of the activities discussed here or find others that celebrate the sun and Earth.  A great way to do both is to combine the celebration of Sun and Earth with a great vacation.  Plan an ecotourism vacation that focuses on and helps the Earth through your participation and interaction.  There are several ecotourism sites to search to find an eco-vacation that is a good fit for your next family vacation.  Enjoy!

References:  The History of Earth Day.  Accessed: 3/29/21.  What is Ecotourism?  (The History & Principles of Responsible Travel).  Accessed: 3/31/21.


Lyons, Sarah.  April 1, 2018.  6 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with your Family.  Accessed: 3/31/21.

St. Neots Museum.  Why do we celebrate the Summer Solstice?  June 19, 2020. Accessed:  3/15/21.

Torberg, Shannon, PsyD, LP.  Importance of taking a Vacation.  June 14, 2017.,more%20motivation%20to%20achieve%20goals.  Accessed: 3/30/21.

First appeared in Therapeutic Thymes Magazine, Summer 2021, Issue 19.

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