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MAIN Arrow to Home LifeHolidays & Observances Arrow to Summer SolsticeSummer Solstice 2016

Welcome to summer!

Summer Solstice Worldwide

Stonehenge Festival UK 2016

Summer Solstice NYC

Santa Barbara Solstice Parade

• In North America, the first day of summer arrives with the summer solstice, beginning on Monday, June 20, 2016 at 6:34 pm EDT  (5:34 pm Central, 4:34 pm Mountain time, and 3:34 pm Pacific).

In the UK summer arrives a few hours later on Monday, June 20th at 22:34 UT.

Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still."

As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky, a pivotal moment in the seasonal calendar.

As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year.

Because the Earth revolves around the sun tilted slightly, things heat up differently on the planet north to south. While the Northern hemisphere celebrates in June, people in Australia, South America, and other populations in the Southern hemisphere celebrate their longest day of the summer in December.


Early celebrations

Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer (see Shakespeare), St. John's Day, or the Wiccan Litha.

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


Summer solstice celebrations at Stonehenge
Summer solstice is celebrated every year at dawn as crowds gather at Stonehenge in the UK.


Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer solstice is the present-day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June which echoes back to an ancient Druids celebration of Summer solstice as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth".


How Summer solstice is celebrated today

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

Throughout Europe, other pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are still common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn. In Paris, the day is marked with free concerts during the annual Fête de la Musique.

In the U.S., the city of Santa Barbara in California holds the nation's most talked-about Summer solstic celebrations -- featuring a parade, performance artists, and other entertainment during a festival that lasts a full three days.

On the East Coast, New York City traditionally ushers in the solstice with a music concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine as a more risqué celebration happens in Brooklyn at the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade.


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 for good luck (in the belief that the higher the jump, the higher your summer crops would grow.)

  • 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', known today as St. John's Wort which is still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.

also see in Summer -> 2015 Summer Concerts | Milwaukee Summerfest


More about summer solstice around the Web:

On the Web, discover more about the topic, where and how Summer solstice is celebrated around the world along with related history, folklore and rituals that mark the much-awaited long, bright days of summer ....

Summer Solstice - Good overview of its history, customs & holidays, illustrations, date & time charts and related resources, from Wikipedia.

Summer Solstice Celebrations - Ancient & Modern - Check out a detailed discussion about how the day has been celebrated over the centuries, and in many cultures, with suggested reading.

BBC Religion - Summer Solstice - A brief overview of Pagan rituals and ceremonies with related resoures for more facts & information.

The Pagan Festival of Litha - The origins of Druidic Summer Solstice celebrations and their meaning in the natural cycle of seasons.


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