The First Day of Summer is here or the day of Summer Solstice!

20 06 2008

Some cool facts and information on the Summer Solstice and where it originated from. 🙂

Depending on where you live, the Summer Solstice occurs this year —

  • in the Northern Hemisphere on: June 20, 2008 at 7:59 PM EDT; and in the UK on June 20, 2008 at 23:59 UTC. 

  • in the Southern Hemisphere on: December 21, 2008 at 10:04pm AEST.
As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December.

 

Early Celebrations

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations in the northern areas have for centuries celebrated the Summer Solstice, otherwise known as Midsummer (see Shakespeare), the Christian St. John’s Day, or the Wiccan Litha.

The Celts & Slavs celebrated with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun’s energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.

Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids’ celebration of the day as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth”, resulting in the present day belief of a “lucky” wedding in June.

 

Today, the day is still celebrated around the world – most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands still gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.

Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups gather to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn.

 


Summer Solstice Fun Facts

  • Pagans called the Midsummer moon the “Honey Moon” for the mead made from fermented honey that was part of wedding ceremonies performed at the Summer Solstice. 

  • Ancient Pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. 

  • Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, Pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called ‘chase-devil’, which is known today as St. John’s Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

June 20-21 is a very important day for our planet and its relationship with the sun. June 20-21 is one of two solstices, days when the rays of the sun directly strike one of the two tropical latitude lines. June 21 marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and simultaneously heralds the beginning of winter in the southern hemisphere. In 2008, the solstice occurs and summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere on June 20 at 7:59 p.m. EDT (23:59 UTC, one minute before midnight).

The earth spins around its axis, an imaginary line going right through the planet between the north and south poles. The axis is tilted somewhat off the plane of the earth’s revolution around the sun. The tilt of the axis is 23.5 degrees; thanks to this tilt, we enjoy the four seasons. For several months of the year, one half of the earth receives more direct rays of the sun than the other half.

When the axis tilts towards the sun, as it does between June and September, it is summer in the northern hemisphere but winter in the southern hemisphere. Alternatively, when the axis points away from the sun from December to March, the southern hemisphere enjoys the direct rays of the sun during their summer months.

June 21 is called the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and simultaneously the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Around December 21 the solstices are reversed and winter begins in the northern hemisphere.

On June 21, there are 24 hours of daylight north of the Arctic Circle (66.5° north of the equator) and 24 hours of darkness south of the Antarctic Circle (66.5° south of the equator). The sun’s rays are directly overhead along the Tropic of Cancer (the latitude line at 23.5° north, passing through Mexico, Saharan Africa, and India) on June 21. 

From Matt Rosenberg,
Your Guide to Geography.
http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/summersolstice.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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