The summer solstice takes place Sunday, June 21. It’s the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and officially the first day of summer. It’s an event celebrated among cultures around the world with a variety of rituals. Among them: bonfires, torch-lit parades, the wearing of crowns of flowers and the creation of “protective amulets.” If you want to add a new ritual to your own personal celebration, participate in the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday, June 20.
Started in 2012, the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5K aren’t nearly as old as the rituals associated with the Druids, Vikings and other groups. They do, however, provide a great way to kick off summer and enjoy some of the best scenery the Leelanau peninsula has to offer. (Check out my blog from last year, as well as this blog from Michigan Runner Girl for another perspective.)
The Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5K also offer ways to incorporate some of the ancient rituals associated with the summer solstice into a more contemporary way of celebrating. (Some may be a stretch but it’s good to leave room for a little creativity.)
You get a medal for completing the Glen Arbor half marathon, which makes an awesome “protective amulet” — something commonly associated with summer solstice celebrations. If you insist on being a bit more authentic with your amulet, go ahead and make a small pouch out of white or gold cloth and fill it with any combination of midsummer herbs. (Just be sure to add them in threes. I didn’t make this up. It’s part of the tradition.) But wear your finisher’s medal, too. You earned it.
Who doesn’t love a parade? The Druids did. The Celtics did. Just about every culture that has age-old traditions for celebrating the summer solstice includes parades among them. While the Glen Arbor Half Marathon and 5K aren’t exactly parades, they will involve a constant stream of people running and walking the courses (extremely scenic courses that are mostly flat, except for one small section in the half marathon). Just make sure you wave at the spectators and the folks at the aid stations.
Most summer solstice parades do involve the carrying of torches but these running events are day-time activities, so water bottles and GU packets will suffice.
Wearing garlands or crowns of flowers are common summer solstice traditions, symbolizing the harnessing of nature’s magic to ensure good health throughout the year. While flower garlands might not be that comfortable when running, there’s nothing wrong with a flower hot-glued to a barrette for use as a hair accessory – or even just donning a flowered running shirt or shorts. Don’t get caught up in gender stereotypes. Flowers are for everyone!
What would a summer solstice celebration be without fire? Actually, fires can be dangerous. Instead, make the people who put out the fires an important part of your summer solstice rituals. Participating in the Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon or 5K covers you there, because proceeds from the events benefit the Glen Arbor Fire Department. If that’s not enough, consider that it takes fire for a barbecue — and if you stick around Glen Arbor after the runs, you can stop by the 2015 Glen Lake BBQ and Brew Summer Celebration. Of course, there will be refreshments awaiting you when you cross the finish line of the half marathon and 5K as well.
Celebrate the Sun
If you are a summer solstice traditionalist, no worries. The Glen Arbor Solstice Half Marathon and 5K take place the day before the summer solstice, so you can still engage in traditional rituals on the actual day. No matter how you choose to celebrate, you’ll have the most hours of sunlight that day to enjoy it.