Litha is also known as Summer Solstice, Alban Hefin, Sun Blessing, Gathering Day, Feill-Sheathain, Whit Sunday, Whitsuntide, Vestalia, Thing-tide, and St. John’s Day.
Litha is usually celebrated on June 21st but varies somewhat from the 20th to the 23rd, dependant upon the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. According to the old folklore calendar, Summer begins on Beltane (May 1st) and ends on Lughnassadh (August 1st), with the Summer Solstice midway between the two, marking MID-Summer. This makes more logical sense than suggesting that Summer begins on the day when the Sun’s power begins to wane and the days grow shorter. The most common other names for this holiday are the Summer Solstice or Midsummer, and it celebrates the arrival of Summer when the hours of daylight are longest. The Sun is now at the highest point before beginning its slide into darkness.
Humanity has been celebrating Litha and the triumph of light since ancient times. On the Wheel of the Year, Litha lies directly across from Yule, the shortest day of the calendar year, that cold and dark winter turning when days begin to lengthen and humanity looks wistfully toward warmth, sunlight and growing things. Although Litha and Yule are low holidays or lesser sabbats in the ancient parlance, they are celebrated with more revel and merriment than any other day on the wheel except perhaps Samhain. The joyous rituals of Litha celebrate the verdant Earth in high summer, abundance, fertility, and all the riches of Nature in full bloom. This is a great time of strong magic and empowerment, traditionally the time for handfasting or weddings and for communication with the spirits of Nature. At Litha, the veils between the worlds are thin; the portals between “the fields we know” and the worlds beyond stand open. This is an excellent time for the rites of divination.