What is a summer solstice? Definition and explanation:
The Summer solstice, commonly referred to as midsummer, takes place on the 21st (and rarely on the 20th or 22nd) in June and is accompanied by the longest day and the shortest night of the year. It marks the astronomical and calendrical beginning of summer and defines the northernmost position of the sun on its imaginary orbit around the earth. In contrast to astronomy, meteorology already considers June 1 as the official beginning of summer.
Meaning and traditions of the summer solstice
At the time of each summer solstice on June 21, the sun reaches the highest turning point in the northern hemisphere above the horizon. On this day, it is fully inclined to our planet in the northern hemisphere, causing most of the sun's rays to hit Earth. The ecliptic is now almost perpendicular to the northern tropic, which is perceptible as the longest day of the year. This means that as of the summer solstice, the days slowly become shorter again and at the same time the nights gradually become longer. However, since this is only a few minutes a day, this fact is only slightly perceptible to humans.
While the summer solstice takes place on June 21, according to the Gregorian calendar in use today, it was celebrated in earlier times according to the Julian calendar on June 24, the Christian St. John's Day. The tradition of merging the two festivals has survived to this day. On the 21st of June, there are still many bonfires going on in many places, which are held not only in the sun, but also in honor of John the Baptist. Midsummer is celebrated mainly in the northern countries of the northern hemisphere, as its effects on the weather there are very noticeable and visible. Especially in Scandinavia and the Nordic countries symbolic burns of evil spirits and big dances around adorned tree trunks take place around the summer solstice, in order to guarantee a good harvest. People decorate their homes with natural gifts, sing traditional songs and prepare typical dishes for midsummer.