The Summer Solstice has been celebrated since ancient times and some people still celebrate this event today. The timing of the Summer Solstice depends upon when the sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator. This year, 2016, the Summer Solstice is June 21st at 12:24 a.m. EDT. It is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and is considered the first official day of summer.
The Summer Solstice is celebrated by many different cultures in many different ways. It is traditionally celebrated with feasts, bonfires, singing and dancing. The Summer Solstice celebrations focus on life, fertility, renewal, and hope for a good harvest. While Judeo-Christian traditions do not typically celebrate the solstice, many families of all religions will celebrate it in some way to mark the changing seasons by recognizing the first official day of summer or even just to enjoy the daylight.
Many U.S. cities have different kinds of solstice celebrations; local event calendars may have information that will help you find local celebrations. If you are a host family, ask your au pair if they celebrate the solstice in their own country, and how. If you are an au pair, share this information with your family, friends and with Au Pair Foundation – you can write a blog about it and have it published.
Here is a rundown of some of the most unique Summer Solstice celebrations across the world:
Stonehenge, England – The Summer Solstice sun aligns perfectly with the mysterious rock creations of Stonehenge. Some who have studied the stones in depth believe it to be an ancient calendar use to predict events such as the solstice. Many people, especially pagans and druids, gather here on the Summer Solstice to watch the sun rise above the stone structures.
Sweden – The Summer Solstice, or “midsommer”, as it is called in Sweden, is a big holiday where people feast and dance around a Maypole. Sweden is also known for having “midnight sun” in the north part of the country, meaning that the sun is up for almost the entire night.
Native Americans - In North America, some Native American tribes held ritual dances to honor the Sun. The Sioux were known to hold one of the most spectacular rituals. Preparations for the event included cutting and raising a tree that would be considered a visible connection between the heavens and Earth, and setting up teepees in a circle to represent the cosmos. Participants abstained from food and drink during the dance itself. Their bodies were decorated in the symbolic colors of red (sunset), blue (sky), yellow (lightning), white (light), and black (night).
Seattle, Washington – Seattle has one of the most unique Summer Solstice traditions. The Fremont neighborhood hosts a solstice parade complete with a naked bikeride. You might keep the kids at home for THAT part!
You don’t need to take off your clothes to enjoy the solstice, however. You can celebrate in whatever way you want, or even not at all.