THE SUMMER SOLSTICE is almost upon us- but when actually is it and why do we celebrate it?
It’s officially known as the longest day of the year and is a celebrated event in some parts of the world.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Summer Solstice- including when it starts and more about why it is important.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The word solstice is taken from a Latin word meaning ‘sun standing still’.
The Summer Solstice takes place when the earth’s geographical pole is at its maximum tilt towards the sun.
It’s the beginning of the astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
The summer solstice is called ‘the longest day of the year’ as the sun will be at its highest position in the sky offering the longest period of daylight.
After this, the days gradually begin to get shorter- although we won’t notice these shorter days for a while yet.
When is the Summer Solstice?
In the Northern Hemisphere, the solstice usually takes place between 20 June and 22 June every year.
This year, it’s set to take place on Monday 21 June.
According to timeanddate.com, the sun will rise in England at approximately 04:21 and it will set at 22:54 on the solstice.
In the southern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice doesn’t take place until December and countries will experience the shortest day of the year on 21 June.
How is the Summer Solstice celebrated around the world?
One of the most notable Summer Solstice celebrations in England takes place at Stonehenge.
Stonehenge is believed to have been used as an important religious site by early Britons 4,000 years ago. Pagan celebrations at the site began in the 20th century.
More than a million people flock to Stonehenge every year, with thousands attending ceremonies to mark the solstices in summer and winter.
The gathering was cancelled last year due to coronavirus restrictions.
In Norway they hold a Barrel Bonfire ceremony.
Although held a few days after the Summer Solstice on June 24 (John the Baptist’s birthday), Slinningsbålet is one of the biggest midsummer events in Scandinavia. Using wooden pallets, a tower is created and a burning barrel placed on top. For safety, you’ll find the towers next to lakes.
In New York, USA Yogis from all over the world come to perform different disciplines at the Solstice in Times Square. Classes are free – although donations are recommended.
Over in Sweden, single ladies can have a stab at finding love on the longest day by placing flowers under their pillow before going to bed. Other celebrations include eating pickled salmon, herring and potatoes, and dancing around maypoles with floral a wreath on your head.
In China they eat noodles and lychee berries while watching a boat race in China’s Zhejiang province.
In southwest Yunnan, people offer sacrifices to the sun and in many areas of southern China, people feast on lychee and dog meat as part of the celebrations.