The Official First Day of Summer

This coming Thursday, the 20th, is the Summer Solstice—the first official day of summer. On this day, the North Pole is tilted toward the sun, creating the longest day of sunlight and the shortest night. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the beginning of winter.

Meteorological Verses Astrological Summer

However, meteorologically speaking, the first of June was the beginning of summer. Meteorologists and climatologists break the seasons down into three-month periods based on the annual temperature and our calendar. We think of winter as the coldest and summer as the warmest, with spring and fall being seasons of change. That is what meteorological seasons are based on.

Bonfires, Witches, and John the Baptist?

Many rituals around the world for the Summer Solstice involve bonfires. Some people believed that the bonfire was “showing the sun” what it needed to do—shine brightly. Others believed that the bonfire warned witches away. In other parts of Europe, they combine the celebrations of the Summer Solstice with celebrations of the birthday of John the Baptist.

How People Celebrate Around the World

Of course, we could attend the Summer Solstice celebration at Stonehenge (which was built to align with the solstices), where people stay up all night playing music and celebrating. We could also go to Sweden, where they have a ritual celebration that involves massive picnics around a maypole. Fairbanks, Alaska, holds an all-day street fair topped off with a night baseball game. And in Iceland, they have a music festival held inside a glacial cavern. St. Petersburg, Russa, has a festival featuring ballets and operas.

They say many people get up early on the Solstice to greet the sun, and some make flower crowns for their hair. Me, well, a family cookout says a lot.

Happy Summer!

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