Midsummer tradition celebrated when the longest day of the year falls

The summer solstice, also known as the longest day of the year, will fall tomorrow, June 21st – marking a brighter night for all of us.

Summer Solstice 2022 Longest Day Stonehenge Festival Midsummer June

© Provided by The Telegraph
Summer Solstice 2022 Longest Day Stonehenge Festival Midsummer June

Whether you’re planning to make the most of your annual leave or just want to keep some extra evening plans in your journal, there’s a lot you can do to make the most of the long summer days.

Also known as midsummer or the summer solstice, this is the day with the longest hours of sunshine – a good sign for anyone suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or looking to absorb some extra vitamin D.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about summer, the solstices, traditions, the importance of Stonehenge and how to celebrate it during lockdown.

When is the summer solstice, when?

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs between June 20 and 22 each year.

This year is Tuesday 21 June – when the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 43 minutes of daylight. The sun will rise at 4.43am and set at 9.22pm.

The winter solstice officially marks the beginning of the astronomical summer, which ends when the fall equinox falls on September 22.

On this day, day and night are nearly equal in length as the sun crosses the celestial equator and moves south into the northern hemisphere.

What happens during the summer solstice?

There are two solstices every year – one in winter and one in summer. The summer solstice occurs when the Earth’s axis is most toward the sun and directly above the Tropic of Cancer.

Traditionally, the summer solstice period sits between the planting and harvesting of crops, giving people working on the land time to relax. That’s why June has become a traditional wedding month.

It may seem like a day to celebrate, but it actually marks the moment when the sun’s path in the sky stops moving northward, and the beginning of the day gets shorter and shorter as the slow march toward winter begins.

However, we won’t notice the days getting shorter for a while. The shortest day of the year is Monday, December 21, known as the Winter Solstice.

At the winter solstice, Earth’s axis is tilted furthest from the Sun directly above the constellation Capricornus, bringing in only a few hours of sunlight.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the dates of the two solstices are opposite. The winter solstice occurs on the same day in June and the summer solstice occurs on the same day in December.

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin “solstitium”, which means “the sun stands still”. Some people prefer the Germanic term “sunturn” to describe the event.

Video: All About Summer Solstice (Good Housekeeping)

All about the summer solstice



Astrologers say the sun appears to “stand still” on the horizon where it appears to rise and set, then move in the opposite direction.

Summer Solstice Customs

Over the centuries, the June solstice has inspired many festivals and midsummer celebrations, including bonfires, picnics, singing, watching the sunrise and the maypole dance. Many towns and villages in the UK still commemorate the day.

One ritual is to make a fire, heralding the beginning of shorter days, although this no longer happens often. The idea is that fire keeps darkness away.

How to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Stonehenge always welcomes legions of garland-wearing hippies, druids and curious tourists to the mysterious stone circle to wait for the sun to rise.

Every June, around 10,000 people traditionally greet the moment of dawn, with cheers and silent meditation, as the sun rises behind the Heel Stone (the ancient entrance to the stone circle).

Elsewhere, in Penzance, Cornwall, the Golowan Festival is celebrated every year in midsummer. After a scaled-down event in 2021, it will take place in full from June 17-26 this year.

Golovin Festival Penzance Cornwall Summer Solstice Midsummer Festival Sun Long Days June 2022

© Provided by The Telegraph
Golovin Festival Penzance Cornwall Summer Solstice Midsummer Festival Sun Long Days June 2022

The Golowan Festival showcases a bright parade where festivalgoers dance snakes to the sound of Golowan bands. There are also Golowan workshops on the eve of the festival, where those celebrating can take part in activities such as costume, mask and headgear making.

Other activities to get you in the summer spirit include building model boats, creating banners, practicing circus skills and photographing the town trail at the Quay Fair Day rowing pool event.

Why is Stonehenge so important to the summer solstice?

Stonehenge in Amesbury, Wiltshire is the most popular place for pagans to celebrate the longest day, as it is famous for its alignment with the Solstice. The rising sun reaches the center of the stone only one day of the year when it hits the central altar.

Stonehenge was built in three stages between 3,000 and 1,600 BC, and its exact purpose remains a mystery. The stones were transported from far away – bluestone from the Preseli Hills more than 150 miles away, and sarsens possibly from the Marlborough Downs 19 miles to the north.

This day marks the ancient midsummer. It was of great significance to pagans who had always believed in the special power of Midsummer.

Midsummer night is considered the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, and fairies are considered the most powerful.

What does it have to do with Midsummer?

Midsummer is a separate event of the summer solstice. This year, Midsummer will take place on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Referring to the time period between midsummers, this celebration predates Christianity and is held mainly around the summer solstice.

Traditionally a quarter day – when servants are hired, school starts and rents are due – the midsummer bonfires are still lit in some of Cornwall’s hills. Bonfires are also typical of Golowan, a festival now celebrated in Penzance, Cornwall, as they symbolize Gol-Jowan.

This article will be continuously updated with the latest information.

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