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First Day of Summer Arrives With the Summer Solstice

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The first day of summer for San Diego has finally arrived. Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy some much needed time at the beach.

But what signifies as the actual first day of summer? What makes the 21st of June so special? It is the day of the Summer Solstice. The beginning of the solstice is at 10:16 a.m. PT and marks itself as the longest day of the year. This happens when the Sun is farthest north and the Earth is tilted at its max towards the Sun. It marks itself as the longest day of the year because the length of time between the sunrise and sunset is at the day’s maximum length for the year. Thereby having the longest day and the shortest night. Those in the Northern Hemisphere, like us, have the Summer Solstice happen in June, whereas those in the Southern Hemisphere have it in December. How long has the Summer Solstice been recognized though? And how was it celebrated?

In the past, it was recognized as an important turning point for farmers who relied heavily on agriculture to survive. Back then, it wasn’t just to go out and celebrate; it was part of their whole lifestyle. According to the National Geographic, the Summer Solstice has been recognized and celebrated throughout the world in many cultures, both in the past and present.

One past culture that celebrated the solstice was the ancient Egyptians. They built the Great Pyramids to observe the Sun from the viewpoint of the Sphinx. From the viewpoint on the Sphinx, the Sun sets directly between two of the Great Pyramids. One famous old tradition of celebrating the Summer Solstice is watching it from the standing stones of Stonehenge, located in the United Kingdom. For 5,000 years these stones have been associated with both the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. Another tradition is the Chinese festival in honor of Li, the Chinese goddess of light. Li has a festival every year on the solstice.

So how will you be celebrating the solstice? One way you can is by swinging over to The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on Wednesday, June 22. The museum will be hosting a Summer Solstice Soiree at 6pm. It is a dinner and cocktail event. Making the celebration different from the usual bonfire and wild dancing.

Make sure to check out the new Google Doodle Art, created by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. According to The Guardian, his work is known for using a variety of high art forms that include sculptures, and then melding them with different themes of low art. In 2008 he was listed in Time Magazine as being one of the 100 most influential people. His latest design has been commission by Google for its latest doodle. The cartoon is titled The First Day of Summer. The artist weaves flowers around the open mouthed heads of a bunny and bear that are drawn in the Japanese anime style.

Go out and have fun. For after today, we will be having 14 hours of daylight during the summer, in comparison to the 10 hours we get during winter in December. That’s 4 extra hours of daylight to use. Maybe you’ll come across some those of the Druid faith and tradition who are recognized for the first time in the U.K. as an official religion. The Summer Solstice is much loved by them. Enjoy the First Day of Summer.

Photos courtesy of Erik Olsen, Milan G, Sean Duncan, and Karen Horton via Flickr.com

2 Comments

  1. jon

    June 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    “One famous old tradition of celebrating the Summer Solstice is watching it from the standing stones of Stonehenge, located in the United Kingdom. For 5,000 years these stones have been associated with both the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice.”

    Maybe Stonehenge is more about the nature of our world than we think:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/Heavenshenge
    (3rd, 4th and 7th are the best.. 7th isn’t out yet)

    Of Hyperion we are told that he was the first to understand, by diligent attention and observation, the movement of both the sun and the moon and the other stars, and the seasons as well, in that they are caused by these bodies, and to make these facts known to others; and that for this reason he was called the father of these bodies, since he had begotten, so to speak, the speculation about them and their nature.’
    Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5.67.

    “After the death of Hyperion, the myth relates … They also say that he [Atlas] perfected the science of astrology and was the first to publish to mankind the doctrine of the sphere; and it was for this reason that the idea was held that the entire heavens were supported upon the shoulders of Atlas, the myth darkly hinting in this way at his discovery and description of the sphere.’
    Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 3.60.

    Archaeologist’s site, for background story:

    http://www.eternalidol.com/?p=9655

  2. benjaminhorta

    June 22, 2011 at 3:42 am

    The solstice is widely rejoiced by a daylong gathering in the monumental Stonehenge. http://bit.ly/kj01rp

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