I notice time in bags of dog kibble.
It is a strange situation, but that is the reality of my life in 2020.
I am taken by surprise every time I notice the bag is almost empty. Have I been feeding him too much? Surely that many weeks can’t have passed by already.
I’ll be honest. I’m tired of writing about global pandemics and unrest. I want to think about something people around the world can celebrate and enjoy.
As luck would have it, the perfect opportunity is arriving this week. Saturday is the summer solstice.
Globally, this is a significant turning point in the seasons and is associated with change, nature, and new beginnings. Those are all things I can get behind right now.
Solstice comes from the Latin words, sol and sistere. Sol means sun and sistere means to come to a stop or standstill.
It is the time when the sun reaches its most northern position in the sky and seems to stand still before it starts its journey to the southern extreme.
You probably know this is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere but let me share a few more facts about the summer solstice.
1. It doesn’t always occur on June 21.
Although this is probably the most common day for the summer solstice to land, it can also occur one day on either side of the 21st. For example, this year the longest day is June 20.
It is unusual for June 22 to be the day of celebration. The last time the summer solstice landed on this date was 1975 and the next time won’t happen until 2203.
2. The longest day doesn’t mean the earliest sunrise and latest sunset.
Because there is a discrepancy between the solar measurement of time and our modern system, the earliest sunrise happens a few days before the solstice and the latest sunset happens a few days after.
3. Not everyone sees it as the first day of summer.
Astronomers and scientists consider this to be the first day of summer, but meteorologist define the summer season as starting on June 1.
4. The longest day isn’t the hottest one.
The hottest day of the year usually happens a few weeks after the longest day. It takes time for landmasses and oceans to warm up. This needs to happen for higher air temperatures to occur.
5. There is a long history of celebration on this day.
Since prehistoric times, the summer solstice has been a day of importance.
Stonehenge is an example of this. It is a prehistoric monument in England that is believed to have been erected around 5,000 years ago. Each of the stones used to create the circle weighs around 25 tons.
There are a few different theories of why it was created, but one of them revolves around figuring out when the solstices and equinoxes were. This would allow ancient people to know when to plant and harvest crops.
On the longest day of the year, the sun rises over the heel stone of Stonehenge and hits the exact center of the altar stone.
England isn’t the only place with a history of marking the longest day of the year.
In China, the solstice is associated with yin, or feminine energy. Ceremonies have been held for centuries to celebrate the Earth and new life.
Rather than talking about it being the longest day of the year, the Chinese people express the same sentiment by saying that the shortest shadow is found on that day.
In Ancient Gaul, now mostly modern France, the solstice celebration was called the Feast of Epona. It was named after a goddess who protected horses and personified fertility.
In more northern parts of the hemisphere, the summer solstice is known as the time of the midnight sun. There is daylight for 24. This is a time to celebrate, especially when the opposite solstice brings 24 hours of darkness.
Festivals are held in Scandinavian countries to celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth.
In Baltic countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, midsummer provides an opportunity to go into the countryside and connect with nature. It is common to for them to celebrate by lighting a bonfire and staying up all night drinking, singing, and dancing.
During all the challenges we are facing globally, it is important to focus on what we have in common rather than on all the things that are different. The summer solstice is something everyone in the Northern hemisphere can celebrate.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.