The first day of summer is upon us.
The summer season brings endless happiness to every military kid. To them it means the end of school, long days of outside play, and the much craved warmth of the sun on their faces. For many military members and their spouses, it signals the beginning of PCS season. But the summer season has a rich history that goes much deeper.
Ancient human civilizations first noticed that the sun would only move so far northward in the sky and then it began retreating southward. This was an important observation because this marker assisted them in planting their crops during the right time so they would have a rich harvest. In places like ancient Egypt, the summer solstice was utilized to predict flooding by the rising of the Nile River.
The summer solstice brought feasts of celebrations to many civilizations. The Mayan and Aztec utilized this day to create their structures, making their buildings line up perfectly with the shadows of the solstices. This day also brought a lot of superstitions. Some cultures would use the ash from the celebratory bonfires and spread them across their gardens and farms because they believed it would bring them a rich harvest. Others believed evil spirits were present on this day, so they’d dress themselves in special garlands of flowers and greenery for protection.
While the Northern Hemisphere will be basking in the sun and celebrating the longest day of the year, the Southern Hemisphere will begin their winter season and experience the shortest day of the year. Although the cold of winter definitely feels like it goes on forever, it could be worse. The planet Uranus experiences seasons that last 21 years each.
Modern day celebrations of the summer solstice are practiced in places like northern Europe. There they light bonfires and girls wear flowers in their hair. In England, huge celebrations occur around Stonehenge to mark the longest day of the year. Here in the U.S., it’s mostly celebrated by Neopagans, Wiccans, and New Agers. But it doesn’t have to be just these places. You too can create an amazing family celebration of the summer solstice, wherever you are.
Four Easy Ways to Celebrate the Summer Solstice During the Pandemic:
Long before the invention of the clock, civilizations used to tell time by the position of the sun. The sundial is the oldest known way of telling what time it is. One fun way to celebrate the summer solstice is to build one! The Scientific American will walk you through how to make a sundial and give you a great history of how it was used. You can also check out Pinterest for multiple ways to make sundials. If you are feeling extra crafty, try making a DIY suncatcher too!
Make a flower crown
Who doesn’t love crowns? Especially ones made of flowers and greenery? This is one fun way to celebrate the summer solstice, just like they did hundreds of years before. If you want to get super into it, create garland with greenery and flowers to decorate your home with too.
Spend time outside
This is probably the easiest thing to do, weather permitting. Commit to spending the day outside to enjoy the sun with your family. Go for walks, bike rides, and play games outside.
Create your own feast
Although COVID-19 has canceled many planned summer solstice events, it doesn’t mean you can’t host your own! Create your own feast filled with locally grown foods to celebrate the longest day of the year. This is a great thing to get your kids involved in and if possible, eat it all outside under the sun.
To learn more about the history and science behind the Summer Solstice, click here.