Everything You Need to Know About the Summer Solstice
June 18, 2018
Author: Shelly Weaver-Cather
The longest day of the year is upon us!
This Thursday, at 6:07AM EST, you can officially break out the flip-flops and sunscreen, because Summer is on—if you’re in the Northern hemisphere that is. From June 21st to September 23rd, the Northern Hemisphere will be enjoying our warmest season and longest days.
But what’s all this Solsticing about?
- The Summer solstice used to fall between planting and harvesting crops, which gave everyone a chance to kick back and relax a little before getting to work in the fall. Because of the free time, June became the traditional month to have a wedding.
- The Solstice itself occurs when the Sun is directly overhead the Tropic of Cancer, so it happens at the same moment all over the world—no timezone adjustments needed.
- “Solstice” comes from the Latin “sol” for sun and “sistere” meaning to stand still. The tilt of the Earth’s axis causes the sun’s path to rise and fall from day to day, but on the Summer and Winter Solstice, it appears to freeze.
- In Ancient Egypt, the Summer Solstice coincided closely with the appearance of Sirius in the night sky. Egyptians believed that Sirius was the cause for the Nile flooding, which make their agriculture possible. Because of this, the Summer Solstice marked the New Year for their society.
- If you’re a dedicated baseball fan, the Goldpanners’ midnight baseball game in Alaska just might be something to get on your to-see list. The sun never sets on the Summer Solstice that far north, and every year they start a game at 10:30PM and stretch it well beyond midnight. This year will be their 113th game.
- The Earth is actually farthest away from the Sun on the Solstice. Because it’s accompanied by such warm weather, many people believe that this is when our hemisphere is closer to the sun, but it’s just the angle at which the light hits us that creates the heat.
- Bonfires are a big part of celebrating Midsummer in cultures all over the world—and have been for quite some time. Pagans celebrated the life-giving power of the sun by setting bonfires that represented the warmth of the season. No one does it bigger than Norway, though—in a Summer Solstice celebration called Slinningsbålet, several people spend a few days building a massive palette tower to set on fire. In 2010, they set a record with a 132 foot tall tower.
- The sun will the rise farthest left and set the farthest right on the Solstice, meaning spots in your home that don’t get illuminated at any other point in the year are catching some rays for the first time in a year—keep an eye out on that one corner you never really get to when you’re dusting.
- Sweden celebrates Midsummer’s Eve by dancing around a Maypole and adorning their heads with flower crowns.
So grab a flower crown, start a bonfire, and maybe hit up a baseball game in Alaska. Armed with these Summer Solstice Stats, you can be ready to impress your friends and coworkers on Thursday.