Sun Day: What is the Summer Solstice?

Check out these facts about June 21.

| May/June 2003

In modern times, we rarely give June 21, the summer solstice, a thought. But to our ancient ancestors, the sun’s various positions in the sky were cause for celebration. Summer solstice—what we call the first day of summer—was actually right in the middle of summer according to the ancient Celtic calendar—hence its old name, Midsummer. Here are some beliefs and traditions from days of old.

• Today, we consider the summer solstice as a beginning of long summer days and the growing season. However, to the Celts, Midsummer marked the onset of the sun’s dying strength—from here on out, the days grow shorter.

• Many ancient stone circles such as Stonehenge were built in alignment with the midsummer sun.

• June was named for the Roman goddess Juno, who blessed marriage and childbirth.

• Many wedding traditions, including that of the June bride, derive from pagan celebrations, because couples often married on the solstice. Midsummer falls during the month of the Mead Moon, or Honey Moon—sound familiar?

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