The Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere happens between June 20 and June 22, and not only is it the longest day of the year, but it also signals the arrival of Summer. The solstice occurs when the Earth arrives at the point where the North Pole is at its maximum tilt in relation to the sun, which is why we have more hours of daylight during the Summer Solstice.
The Meaning of Solstice
The word solstice originates from the Latin "solstitium" which translates to sun-stopping. This is because during the June Solstice it looks like the sun has stopped moving in the sky and reversed its trajectory due to the fact that during this day, the sun does not rise in the east as usual. Rather, because it is at its northernmost point in the sky, it rises north of east and sets north of west. This means that the sun is in the sky for a longer time, making Summer Solstice the longest day of the year.
From the day after the solstice, the sun seems to go back to its usual course. This happens because, as we know, it is not the sun that revolves around the earth but the opposite. During the solstice, the Earth's North Pole tilts towards the sun is what causes this apparent change in the sun's position in the sky.
Summer Solstice Traditions
For many people, the Solstice signifies new beginnings and change. Throughout the centuries, this day has been celebrated with festivals, rituals, and midsummer celebrations.
During ancient times, the solstice in June was marked in the calendars as the day to begin planting and harvesting crops, thus its connection with fertility and new beginnings. Proof of this calendar organization system is the monument of Stonehenge in England. It is thought that the stone circle in Stonehenge was built as a way to determine on which day the Summer Solstice falls on. To this day, thousands of people flock to Stonehenge every year to observe the Summer Solstice and perform some ancient pagan celebration rituals.
For centuries, the Summer Solstice has been associated with femininity and fertility, and ancient cultures would celebrate those with feasts and bonfires. With the spread of Christianity, these commemorations were incorporated into religion.
Today, in the United States, New Age, and Neo-pagan groups celebrate the June Solstice by organizing events such as music and art festivals that focus on those ancient rituals of honoring the Earth and the Sun.