An Ancient Solar Celebration
Nearly every agricultural society has marked the high point of summer in some way, shape or form. On this date–usually around June 21 or 22 (or December 21/22 in the southern hemisphere)–the sun reaches its zenith in the sky. It is the longest day of the year, and the point at which the sun seems to just hang there without moving – in fact, the word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.” The travels of the sun were marked and recorded. Stone circles such as Stonehenge were oriented to highlight the rising of the sun on the day of the summer solstice.
Did You Know?
- Early European traditions celebrated midsummer by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water.
- The Romans honored this time as sacred to Juno, the wife of Jupiter and goddess of women and childbirth; her name gives us the month of June.
- The word “solstice” is from the Latin word solstitium, which literally translates to “sun stands still.”