While many of us may feel summer arrives when the weather turns brighter and warmer, summer officially begins when the solstice occurs. This year, the summer solstice occurred on June 20th, marking the longest day of the year.
As you may already know, Earth’s axis tilts when it orbits around the sun, giving us our seasons. From March to September, the Northern Hemisphere tilts towards the sun, giving us spring and summer. From September to March, the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun, creating autumn and winter. The Southern Hemisphere’s seasons are reversed.
On June 20th, we experienced the longest day as the Earth’s axis tilted closest to the sun. Now, we begin to tilt away from the sun and await the winter solstice on December 21st – the longest night. The winter solstice is the only other day when the Earth’s axis is tilted closest to the sun, yet the Southern Hemisphere will reap the virtues of the sun.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, summer has only just begun!
Summer solstice is the moment when we are closest to the sun all year, and we should soak up the powerful, invigorating, and exhilarating energies that shine upon us. I don’t mean that you should get out your skimpy bikini and start tanning (unless that makes you happy); rather, you should allow the sun’s energies to fuel your mind, body, and spirit.
Pause, acknowledge, and reflect on your fiercest and most exciting moments of being you, your proudest moments of the year, how you can continue to grow in areas of your life, and how you can embrace these positive energies to overpower toxic energies in your life. Use summer solstice as a time for reflection because, after all, it only happens once a year.
Summer solstice is a climax for the Earth, and while its inevitably may seem to damper the significance, several cultures celebrate these celestial events with historical structures and traditions.
The most notable summer solstice traditions involve the mysterious British monument known as Stonehenge. Built between 3000 BCE and 2000 BCE, there is very little evidence and no written record to suggest the monument’s purpose, making Stonehenge a popular historical debate. Most theories about Stonehenge discuss it as a site of healing based on its collection and (re)arrangement of stones.
The entrance to Stonehenge is marked by the Heel Stone, the largest and untouched stone on the site. On the summer solstice, the sun rises slightly left to the Heel Stone, suggesting that the Heel Stone once belonged in a pair, creating a path for the midsummer sun to shine on the stone circle.
Even today, Stonehenge continues to be a popular site for people to celebrate the summer solstice. While crowds were deterred from gathering this year, however, you can watch a recording of the live broadcast of Summer Solstice at Stonehenge on YouTube!
Several European countries commemorate the solstice with Midsummer festivals that celebrate the summer and fertility of the Earth with lighting bonfires and staying up all night to sing, dance, and drink. North American communities focus on the summer solstice with local festivals featuring art or music, environmental awareness activities, and family gatherings. As such, many of us also celebrated Father’s Day on June 20th to show our appreciation for our fathers and father figures.
My summer solstice and Father’s Day involved spending time with my family at our cottage on the lake. While the weather was not always sunny and dry, we enjoyed our time together and spent time away from our busy lives to cheers for another summer.
I hope you all had a lovely summer solstice and Father’s Day. If you have yet to celebrate either occasion, I encourage you to find a way of showing your appreciation to those who take care of us, whether that be Mother Nature or a parent in your life.