For our ancestors - whether they were European, Māori, Pacific, Native American, African or Asian - the summer solstice marked an important time.
The solstices mark the time of the year when the sun pauses for a moment in its journey.
Having reached the southernmost (or northernmost) position, the sun stops for just a moment before heading back the other direction.
In our family we choose to celebrate summer solstice this time of year.
Our celebration would be familiar to many people.
We give simple gifts, we put up decorations, we plant a fruit tree.
These are traditions that cultures around the world have adopted to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
For both our European and Pacific ancestors the winter solstice, where the days are the shortest of the year marked the new year.
It was a time of darkness, of endings and beginnings.
We see this reflected in the Judeo-Christian and Māori creation histories.
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There was darkness until God said "let there be light".
I te timatanga ko te kore. Ko te po-nui, ko te po-roa. Ranginui and Papatuanuku separated creating light.
If winter solstice represents the darkness, the beginning, then summer solstice represents light and abundance.
Summer solstice represents a turning point in the year from planning and preparation, to harvesting and fulfilment.
We have come through the darkness of the year, where the land sits and waits, sleeping.
We have come through the spring, the season of planting and laying foundations.
We are entering summer, where the fruits of our labour will be harvested.
I've heard that in Egypt the summer solstice marked the time of the year before the flooding of the Nile, when the flood plains would begin to produce an abundance of food.
In China, summer solstice celebrated the strength power of Yin, female energy, and in Scandinavia it was a time to celebrate fertility and love.
Native Americans believed it to be the time when the earth was most connected to their creator - the sun god.
A common theme across almost all cultures was a recognition that summer solstice represented the middle of the year.
Here in Aotearoa, in this season, where the sun is at its highest, we see abundance all around us.
The flowers are in full blossom, fruit is just starting to ripen, grasses are bursting with seed.
Birds are filling their bellies, and bees are filling their hives.
There is an abundance of light.
This weekend many will be rushing to put the finishing touches on Christmas festivities.
Many others will be reflecting on the tragedies and joys of the past year, with eyes toward the year ahead.
It is beautiful, in the midst of our modern holiday chaos, to pause, like the sun at its highest arc, and recognise that in this moment we are sitting amongst abundance.