What is the summer solstice and why do we celebrate it?

  

What is the summer solstice and why do we celebrate it?

Today the sun rose in the United Kingdom at 4.43am and won't set until 9.31pm. This means that the UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of sunlight, making today the longest day of the year. This day when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and the Earth's axis is most turned towards it is known as the summer solstice. For thousands of years, Pagans have celebrated both the summer and the winter solstices, which mark the dates of planting and harvesting, at Stonehenge. But why?

The Avenue (the processional way that approached Stonehenge in prehistoric times) and the stones of Stonehenge itself are arranged on the same northeast-southwest alignment. That alignment is precisely the same as the direction of midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset: the longest and shortest days of the year, otherwise known as the midsummer and midwinter solstices. Aligned thusly, the sunrise and sunset are perfectly viewed above the Heel stone on the solstices.


Stonehenge by Francis Pryor is available in hardbackebook and paperback.

Comments

tom

This day when the sun is at its most elevated point in the sky and the Earth's hub is most turned towards it is known as the summer solstice. For a huge number of years Pagans have commended both the summer and the winter solstices which check the dates of planting and collecting at Stonehenge.

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