What Is The Summer Solstice? Here's Why It's The Longest Day Of The Year
In my opinion, there's no medicine that's stronger than sunshine. Just stepping outside and feeling the warmth of the sun soak into my skin is enough to drag the negativity out of me and replace it with light. It's no wonder that the longest day of the year is looked forward to by countless cultures all year long. So what is the summer solstice? This event will infuse your world with magic and enchantment.
On June 21, the summer solstice will launch the Northern Hemisphere into the most lively season of all. To get a better understanding of what this solar event entails, the word "solstice" is a combination of the Latin word "sol," which means sun, and "sistere," which means "to come to a stop" or "to take a pause." In essence, daytime comes to a halt, spreading its silken sunlight across the land and sea for as many hours as it can. The days become longer as the date of the summer solstice grows nearer, and as soon as it's over, the days begin to shorten until we are led back into the autumn season. The day of the summer solstice is when sunshine reaches it's peak and the world is renewed with positivity and valor once again.
If you're wondering what causes such a thing as "the longest day of the year," it all has to do with the Earth's orbit around the sun. Sitting on a tilted axis, the Earth moves through its usual trajectory, allowing more sunlight to land on certain sections of our planet as it shifts positions.
During the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere experiences its longest day of the year while the Southern Hemisphere experiences its shortest, according to Vox. This solar event almost always lands somewhere between June 20 to June 22. Adversely, for the Northern Hemisphere, the longest night of the year takes place during the winter solstice, sometime between Dec. 21 to Dec. 23. However, its during that same time that the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing its shortest night of the year.
This also explains why the Northern Hemisphere's summer months are always the Southern Hemisphere's winter months. It all makes the association of snow and cold weather with Christmastime seem a bit ridiculous, doesn't it? I mean, in Australia, Christmas day could potentially involve a bikini-clad visit to the beach.
While everyone in the Northern Hemisphere will get to reign in on the summer solstice beauty, certain areas will experience longer days than others based on their latitudinal location. During the summer solstice, the Earth faces the sun at its most northern point, which explains why if you live near the Arctic circle, the sun will not set at all on the summer solstice. That's 24 hours of pure, unadulterated sunshine. If you needed a reason to travel further north, look no further.
If that's not feasible at the moment, don't worry. There's plenty of daylight to go around. According to Climatologist Brian Brettschneider, the day will last 15.5 to 16 hours in New York City, while it will last 14 to 14.5 hours in Los Angeles.
Even though plenty of information surrounding the specifics of the summer solstice is readily available online today, our ancestors were no stranger to the mysterious effects of this solar event either. Holidays like Midsummer in Scandinavia and St. John's Day throughout the Catholic world have inspired abundant celebrations and glittering festivals that still take place to this day.
Pagans have also considered the summer solstice a sacred date since ancient times. Visiting the Stonehenge in England during the summer solstice and watching the sun rise through the revered Heel Stone is a pilgrimage that Pagans have and will continue to make for all the years to come.