The Solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, the Solstice falls on this day Saturday June 21 at 6:51 A.M. EDT. So today we welcomethe first day of Summer, 2014! This Summer Solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year thus the “longest day.” In ancient times solstices and equinoxes helped civilisations to understand the seasons and the weather. Although the solstice and midsummer period was usually celebrated by Pagans commemorating the fertility of the season, its associations with life and nature are now celebrated by many cultures and religions. The occasion of the Summer Solstice sees celebrations across the Northern Hemisphere, from Swedes who wear wreaths and dance around maypoles, to modern-day Druids who flock to Stonehenge to Americans who enjoy their pool parties, cookouts – and for some garden parties . The people of Ireland celebrate summer solstice as a conjunction of both the Christian celebration of Saint John’s Eve and a reverence for the old Irish gods. The day after Saint John’s Eve is Saint John’s Day, or the Feast of Saint John. Bonfires are lit in honor of Saint John, and in reference to the fires lit in ancient times for the Celtic god Aine. Jumping over a fire is popular in Greece and Russia. Many Native American tribes, including the Sioux, traditionally perform a Sun Dance and a “deeply spiritual and grueling ceremony” as a show of gratitude for the Solstice.
Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Plains of Salisbury, England (EarthSkyNews photo)
Whatever your inclination – today is a day to celebrate! There’s a lot going on in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley – take your pick or just do your own thing!