Blessed Litha, everyone! Hope everyone above the equator is enjoying the longest day of the year. To our friends in Australia, Blessed Yule!
This holiday is also known as Midsummer, or the Summer Solstice. The name Litha (pronounced "LIH-tha") comes from a very old document written by a monk named Bede called De temporum ratione ("The Reckoning of Time"). The document describes a lot of Anglo-Saxon Pagan ideas, including their names for the months. It is here where we get the term Litha in reference to this time of year. Litha means "gentle" or "navigable," given because the breeze was very gentle and sailors could sail across a smooth sea.
This holiday focuses on the Horned God. During this time, he and the Goddess are living in married contentment, and together they bring abundance and growth to the land. But this day marks the beginning of the end. As the months progress and the days grow shorter, the Horned God will grow old. He will eventually die on Samhain. But don't worry, little witchlets, the Horned God will always be reborn again!
In the process of spreading their religion throughout Europe, the Christians remade this holiday into Saint Johns Day. To be frank, I grew up Catholic and I've never heard of it. But in many countries in Europe, South America, and in parts of Canada, it's apparently a big deal. Although most of their traditions used to celebrate the day are very obviously Pagan.
In terms of how the holiday is celebrated, Litha is basically a toned-down Beltane. It is customary to start observing the holiday the night before, which is why Midsummer's Eve is so important. It is a fire festival customarily celebrated with a bonfire, dancing, storytelling, feasting, and pageantry, just like in Beltane. It is believed that the veils between the human world and the supernatural world are thin during this day, and is considered an excellent time for divination. It might be argued that Litha is a more somber holiday, because we are reminded that nothing lasts forever. Neo-Pagans might take this time to give something away or let something go.
I've never heard of anyone naming their child Litha, but it's an intriguing option. Personally, I see it as being feminine. It's soft and simple with an intuitive pronunciation and spelling. This name could be an special way to honor a child born during this holiday.
Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk
Found via http://www.rocknrollbride.com/