If you have logged on to your social media pages this morning, you have come across posts pertaining to the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Filipinos will experience the longest day of the year during the summer solstice today.
“Philippine nights are at their shortest and daytimes are at their longest during the summer solstice,” PAGASA said in its monthly astronomical diary.
“This is the time when the Sun attains its greatest declination of +23.5 degrees and passes directly overhead at noon for all observers at latitude 23.5 degrees North, which is known as the Tropic of Cancer. This event marks the start of the apparent southward movement of the Sun in the ecliptic,” it said.
The solstice (an astronomical event during which the sun is at its greatest northerly or southerly distance from the equator) will officially started at 11:32 a.m. today. (Read: What Changes Can We Expect This Coming School Year?)
All around the world, certain traditions have various ways to celebrate this day. Here are some of them:
Summer Solstice: Midsummer Festival, Sweden
The Swedes have holidays almost every single thing, but the summer solstice makes them celebrate the most. This is because this is a day full of sunshine and warmth for them! (Read: Good News: You Can Now Attend Festivals in the Philippines!)
The Midsummer Festival takes place across the country but most Swedes go to the countryside to celebrate with their loved ones. Staple food include pickled herring and strawberries topped with whipped cream for dessert.
Summer Solstice: Solstice Bonfires, Austria
In the Tyrolean region of Austria, the long hours of sunlight are celebrated with bonfires inspired by ancient tribal customs. In rural areas, most especially, this practice is a symbol of earth worship— both mystic and pagan.
However, today, most bonfire attendees are more interested in the parties around campfires and the view high in the mountains.
Summer Solstice: Slinningsbålet, Norway
Like its neighbors Finland and Sweden, Norway celebrates midsummer or Sankthansaften with much enthusiasm. It is a yearly celebration on June 23 where the country is lit with bonfires and Norwegians dance around the maypole. It marks the coming of the long-anticipated summer season.
In Alesund on the west coast, mock weddings are held to symbolize new life. The holiday is an honor to the birth of John the Baptist but mostly a celebration of the end of winter. (Read: 4 Fun Ways Filipinos Celebrate John the Baptist’s Birthday)
Summer Solstice: Sunset at Stonehenge, United Kingdom
If you’re familiar with William Shakespeare’s work, then you will not be surprised that the United Kingdom and Ireland have some pretty typical summer solstice celebrations. After all, this is the country where Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream originated.
Festivities in the pre-Christian past were all about fairies, unicorns, and other mystical creatures. Today, many people flock to the Stongehenge to see the perfectly aligned sunrise.