It's Summer Solstice AKA The Longest Day Of 2012!

By Meera Dolasia on June 20, 2012

CCSS NAS-4 NCSS-1 Word Search

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, today, June 20th, may seem never-ending - one in which the sun just does not wish to set. Depending on your location that may actually be the case, because today happens to be the first day of summer and also, the longest day of the year!

Known as the summer solstice, it is the day when the Earth's axis is most inclined toward the sun. In normal years, this usually takes place on June 21st. However, thanks to the  fact that 2012 is a leap year, this year the solstice is earlier, by a day.

Countries in the Southern Hemisphere experience a similar phenomenon, except in reverse order - Today is the first day of winter and therefore the shortest day of the year, whilst December 21st, will be the longest, marking the first day of summer.

The amount (or lack of) sun received during this day, depends on the location of your city or town. Washington D.C. on the east coast of United States will receive almost 16 hours, while the islands of Hawaii in the southwest corner of the country will have to settle for just a tad over 13. Head over to Europe and you will be able to soak in over 18 hours of sunshine in London or more than 21 hours in Stockholm. The best place to be however, is north of the Arctic Circle where the sun will not set at all! Conversely, the Antarctica or South Pole will not see any sunlight today.

While we now know the cause of this phenomenon, ancient cultures regarded it as a spiritual occasion and celebrated it with joyous rituals - Some of which continue till today. One of the oldest and biggest celebrations takes place at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England where thousands of people gather each year, to pay homage to the rising sun. The Swedes celebrate the day with a week-long festival, whilst the people of Poland leap over bonfires to ward off evil spirits.

Some modern day rituals have also been started in recent years. Japan celebrates it with Candle Nights a two-week event to help the environment. Started in 2003, it encourages people all over the world to turn off lights (and all electrical devices) from 8.00 pm to 10 pm every single day, for a fortnight.

New York City celebrates the first day of summer with 'mind over madness' yoga - A free, open for all event where the only requirement is a yoga mat and the desire to sit in awkward poses in the middle of the bustling Times Square. In San Francisco, the day is celebrated with storytelling, songs and bonfires at a number of the city's local beaches. Does your town or city have a summer solstice ritual? if so, be sure to let us know by adding your comments below.

Resources: Washingtonpost.com,wikipedia.org, huffingtonpost.com

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Share on TwitterShare on tumblrShare on StumbleUponShare on PinterestShare on RedditShare on Edmodo
27 Comments
to use your custom avatar.
  • money7/18/2012
    cool that
    • hey
      hey7/2/2012
      Wow!! That's so meaningful to people. They do amazing things for this day, cool.
      • mrslo
        Mrs. Lomax7/2/2012
        Autumn stated that georgia should do a go swim day on the first day of summer in your town or city
        • autumn7/2/2012
          my comment is to go to the pool go to the pool in your town or city
          • taz42
            taz426/30/2012
            cool
            • kgruebnau
              Ms. Gruebnau6/28/2012
              Very interesting!
              • VERSEU_com6/26/2012
                Wish that could be errday!
                • mary10
                  mary106/26/2012
                  wierd
                  • halavakac
                    halavakac6/26/2012
                    Wow all of this is interesting
                    • fluffymarshallow
                      WOW!!!

                      Vocabulary

                      awkwardhomage

                      Geography

                      Hawaii, USASan Francisco, CA, USA

                      Most Popular Articles

                      Message In A Bottle Gets Delivered After 101 Years!
                      Think Fairies Are Real? So Does This Professor
                      And The World's Favorite Number Is . . .
                      Get Ready For The First Total Lunar Eclipse Of 2014
                      Ever Wonder Why Zebras Have Stripes?
                      Surprise! Giant Pandas Love Sweets Too!
                      Is The Five-Second Rule Valid? Depends On Who You Ask!
                      Think Fairies Are Real? So Does This Professor
                      Smile, It's The International Day Of Happiness!
                      Minecraft As A Mandatory Subject In School? Sweet!
                      Boo Mania Sweeps Over America (And The World)!
                      Are You Ready To 'Gangnam Style'?
                      Video Of The Week - World's Youngest Successful Singer!

                      Latest Comments

                      namless wrote:

                      Does this mean that they found a...
                      Scientists Ponder Over Mystery O...

                      abi wrote:

                      this is amazing but everyone kno...
                      NASA Hits Jackpot With Discovery...

                      ALA