Summer Solstice


Iridescence Sea, Mark Yankus

Today is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the first official day of summer and the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Contrast that with today also being the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere and you get some idea of the exquisite harmony and balance of it all.

In countries like Australia, Argentina, and South Africa, today is the shortest day of the year. Down there, the summer solstice is in December.

For inquiring minds, you might be interested in knowing the term solstice comes from the Latin words for “sun” (sol) and “standing still” or “stoppage” (stice). On this longest day of the year, the sun appears as if it were standing still in the sky. A rather bewitchingly lovely thought, I’d say, as though everything is in pause for the day.

There are massive celebrations throughout Northern Europe today, many of which harken back to ancient pagan times and will be characterized with bonfires, dancing, feasting, and staying up all night to welcome the dawn. One of the biggest destinations for the summer solstice is Stonehenge in England; today it is the place for New Agers such as neo-druids, neo-pagans, and Wiccans to gather, along with college-age revelers, adventuresome families, romantic couples, and shoestring backpackers. And it’s the only day of the year the park service offers free parking, free admission, and the opportunity to stay at Stonehenge overnight.

And in China, the perfectly commendable and noteworthy celebration of honoring the Chinese Goddess of Light, Li, is observed. What rituals, pagan or otherwise, might you be observing this day?


The Writer’s Almanac




~ by eaesthete on 06/21/09.

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