Today is the summer solstice: the longest day of the year and the official start of the summer season!
Scientifically, the summer solstice is the day when the sun is at the furthest possible point from the equator and the Earth’s North Pole is tilted directly toward the sun. This positioning means that for folks living north of the equator, they enjoy the longest day of the year (for those south of the equator, this day marks the shortest day of the year).
Historically, the summer solstice has also been a time that people used to organize planting and harvesting schedules and as an opportunity to celebrate. Many pagan rituals center around the summer solstice as a moment to give back to the Earth and to usher in the warmest season. Also known as Midsummer, celebrations of the summer solstice can take many forms, from lighting festive bonfires to staying up through the night to watch the sunrise.
Perhaps most famously, every year people gather at Stonehenge—an ancient prehistoric site in England—whose giant stones some people believe were arranged in a circle expressly as a way to predict when the solstice would occur. To this day, folks flock to the ancient site to welcome the new season.
For me, celebrating the summer solstice is mostly about taking a moment to observe the passing seasons, to luxuriate in the longest day of the year, and to make sure I’ve got my summertime checklist handy and ready for action.