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Summer Solstice 2022 – Discover what causes it to happen and what are the mythological, religious, and spiritual significance associated with it.
“Whatever you dream on this night will come to pass.”
William Shakespeare in ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’
Sun is such an integral part of our lives. The lone star of our planetary system makes our days and nights liveable. Earth’s habitability is majorly attributed to the Sun. Even our ancestors were not unaware of the diurnal cycle’s variations throughout the year.
A strong connection lies between the Earth’s movement with respect to the Sun and the transformation of seasons. Four focal points on the Sun’s movement between the Northern & the Southern Hemisphere mark four celestial phenomena; and they are – the Vernal Equinox, the Summer Solstice, the Autumnal Equinox, and the Winter Solstice.
Let’s get to know the scientific, mythological, religious, and spiritual significance associated with the summer solstice 2022.
What happens on the day of June solstice?
The term “solstice” is derived from the Latin word – solstitium which means Sun (sol) and still or stopped (stitium).
The Sun is at the northernmost point in the sky on the day of the June solstice or the summer solstice. Also, on this day the Sun is directly overhead at noon when observed from the Tropic of Cancer.
The Northern Hemisphere receives direct sunlight on this day. While the Northern Hemisphere experiences the longest day and shortest night, the Southern Hemisphere experiences the opposite on this day. It marks the astronomical first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and consequently the astronomical first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Summer Solstice 2022 – When is it?
Summer solstice 2022 is falling on June 21st. It will occur in the Northern Hemisphere at 5:14 a.m. EDT and can be experienced worldwide at the same moment as per the local time of each place.
The science behind the summer solstice made easy
Image Credit: National Weather Service
Planet Earth is tilted on its axis by 23 and ½ degrees. Thus, the Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun upright. This causes different geographical locations on Earth to receive the Sun’s rays unevenly and further paves the way for season changes and four distinct astronomical events in the Northern & Southern Hemispheres.
On the day of the spring equinox, the Sun arrives at the planet’s Equator. Thereby, it begins its northerly excursion traversing through the Northern Hemisphere to reach the North Pole at the point of its maximum tilt at 23.5 degrees. This marks the June solstice.
After the summer solstice, the Sun begins moving back towards the Equator to reach it on the autumnal equinox. Post this, the Sun further moves to reach the South Pole on the day of December solstice and back towards the Equator.
The mythology associated with the summer solstice
Many ancient cultures observed the festival of Midsummer timed around the summer solstice. Midsummer eve was considered to be the day when the walls between the mortal and the spirit realm became permeable. The spirits and witches became active during the eve as portrayed in Shakespeare’s popular play –A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
People from the Nordic regions, Russia, Ireland, and the British Isles celebrated the Midsummer festival. The influence of certain pagan rituals, particularly the incorporation of fire and water was also predominant in the festival of Midsummer.
People would create fires around their houses to cleanse the environment from the negative energy of evil spirits. Later they would also participate in communal bonfires in their village. The communal bonfire played the role of purifying the environment and also invigorating the waning Sun.
Another ritual involved rolling a flaming wheel downhill into a lake or river where the flaming wheel represented the Sun and the seasons. In contrast, the inclusion of a water body in the ritual was a way of cherishing water for keeping the living beings alive during summers. Water was also a symbolic way of revering fertility.
Religious significance of the summer solstice
Did you know that the ancient Romans during the summer solstice celebrated Vestalia to honour Vesta, the Goddess of the Hearth? To celebrate this religious festival, married women would worship at the temple of Vesta and give her offerings to seek her blessings.
Image Credit: Life in Russia
In Russia, on Kupala Nights, maidens would float wreaths of flowers and candles into the rivers. Later the Church transformed this festival into the birth occasion of St. John the Baptist (June 24).
Image Credit: CGTN
Ancient Chinese commemorated this day to the Earth and the feminine energy. The dragon boat race was conducted in Zhejiang, a custom that is continued even in present times.
Mayans and Aztecs built temples to follow the solar movements. Aligning the shadows of the structures according to these movements helped them decipher astronomical events such as the summer & winter solstices. The existence of the Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge in England, and Machu Picchu in Peru are indicative of the fact that ancient civilizations monitored the yearly progress of the Sun’s rays falling on Earth.
Image Credit: Pinterest
Iranians even in modern times continue celebrating Tirgan on Tir 13, an ancient Persian midsummer festival. They dance, recite poetry, splash water, and serve traditional foods such as sholezard and spinach soup.
June solstice celebrations worldwide:
- Midsummer – Nordic, Slavic Nations, Ireland, British Isles
- Dragon Boat Festival – China & East Asia
- Tiregān– Iran
- Noc Kuplay – Poland
- Jaanipäev – Estonia
- Juhannus – Finland
- Jāņi – Latvia
- Rasos – Lithuania
- Day of Private Reflection (Ireland)
- St. John’s Eve – Catalan nations (Catalonia, Balearic Islands, Valencia, Andorra, etc.)
- National Indigenous Peoples Day – Canada
- Fremont Solstice Parade – Fremont, Seattle, Washington, US
- Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade – Santa Barbara, California, US
- International Surfing Day
- International Yoga Day
- World Music Day
Spiritual significance of the summer solstice
Since ancient times, older civilizations like the Harappans, Aryans of the Vedic age, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Incas, and the Mayans have revered the holy Sun.
The Sun is the source of all power and energy in this world. Sun’s energy is synonymous with positive energy. Thus, the Sun can stimulate our spirit’s energy too.
I don’t know about others but nothing can cheer me up more than a bright, sunny morning.
In modern times, this day is also observed as International Yoga Day. If you think yoga is just for the body then your knowledge is incomplete for yoga encompasses the spirit, mind, and body. One facet of yoga deals with cleansing the mind and awakening one’s spirituality.
How to spend the day of the June solstice?
Summer solstice 2022 is the perfect time of the year to get in touch with your spiritual self and to reflect on your life. You can experience this magnificent day from anywhere. This is the perfect day to feel indebted to the Universe for your existence and to revere the cosmos.
If you can take some time off your busy schedule on this year’s June solstice, then just head out to enjoy the Sun during the wee hours of the day. Alternatively, you could go hiking, walk in the forest in solitude, contemplate by the lake, or go for a day picnic with your loved ones. The winter solstice will occur on December 21, 2022 at 4:48 P.M. EST.
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