Litha and the Summer Solstice

June 16, 2020 0 By Saranne Mallinson

You may have seen online in various places that some people are celebrating Litha this month, and some people are celebrating the Summer Solstice. But what is the difference?

Summer Solstice

The word Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), or ‘Sun Standing’ because at the Solstices, the Sun’s declination appears to stand still; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s daily path (as seen from Earth) pauses at a northern or southern limit before reversing direction.

The Summer Solstice is an astronomical event that happens in a moment. It happens when the Earth’s tilt on its axis is leaning the closest towards the Sun, before it starts tilting back again. The Summer Solstice marks the longest day. The earliest sunrises occur on 14-19th June in London (4.42am) and 11th-22nd June in Crawley (4.45am). The latest respective sunsets are between the 19-30th June for both London (9.21pm) and Crawley (9.19pm).

Summer Solstice dates:

London:  June Solstice (Summer Solstice) is on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 10:43 pm in London. In terms of daylight, this day is 8 hours, 49 minutes longer than on December Solstice.

Crawley: June Solstice (Summer Solstice) is on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at 10:43 pm. In terms of daylight, this day is 8 hours, 40 minutes longer than on December Solstice.

If you want to see in the sunrise on the Solstice, check the times for where you live here https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/uk/london

Litha or Liða

Litha is a Midsummer celebration often merged Summer Solstice celebration, and is a celebration of the Goddess and God at the height of their power: the King and Queen of fertile lands where they rule over the growing fruitful Earth, like a growing pregnancy. Litha marks the zenith of the Sun and the day of the longest light.

It is a good time to draw down that the energy from the Sun at the height of its power, and use it in your magick. And when the sun goes down, this is the best time for divination!

Litha in 2020 will occur on Wednesday, June 24th 2020. 

In Old English, June and July were collectively called Liða (pronounced lee–thuh). The Old English character ð having the voiced th-. There are many theories as to what ‘liða’ means. Today’s pagans use the word to refer to Midsummer; however, the Anglo-Saxon scholar Bede mentions in his treatise De temporum ratione that ‘liða’ means ‘calm’, or ‘navigable’ in both the month and the serenity of the breezes, and the waters are usually navigable.” The fact that the Old English word for ‘to sail’ is ‘līðan’ would seem to support Bede’s statement, indicating that June and July were knows for calm waters and weather. On its own, June was sometimes also referred to as ‘Ærra-Liða’, which is ‘first Liða’, and July ‘Æftera-Liða’, or ‘after/second Liða.’

líða is an Old Norse word that appears in the modern Icelandic and Faroese languages today, and means ‘suffer’ or ‘feel’ as it did in Old Norse. This indicates that the meaning hasn’t really changed much within language evolution of Old Norse as it has done in Old English, and suggests Old English has Old Norse roots.