In Ancient Egypt the summer solstices was celebrated as New Years. This was because of its critical role in predicting the flooding of the Nile river due to the fact it coincided with the rising of the river.
The Irish would cut hazel branches on the eve of the solstice. These would be used for searching for gold, water, and jewels.
In pagan folklore this is a time were evil spirits would appear. People wore protective garlands of flowers and herbs to ward them off. One of the most powerful of these plants was St. John's Wort.
Lots of pagan groups also celebrated this time of year with bonfires. Bonfires were connected to magic and magic was thought to be at its most powerful. They were thought to boost the sun's energy during the growing season guaranteeing a good harvest. They also banished evil demons and spirits. They even helped lead maidens to their future husbands. The ashes from the bonfire were thought to protect one from misfortune. The ashes were also sprinkled in gardens to ensue a bountiful harvest.
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