June 21st is the official start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, noted as our longest day of the year. A solstice occurs when the Earth's axis is tilted most closely toward the sun. The Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted about 23.4 degrees relative to Earth's orbit around the sun - it is this tilt that drives our seasons.
Solstices have played a significant role throughout our history. Some of the ancient and not so ancient rituals and festivals around solstice time include:
- Stonehedge: On the summer solstice, the Heel Stone, which stands outside Stonehenge’s main circle, lines up with the rising sun.
- Inca New Year: During the Southern Hemisphere’s winter solstice on June 24th, the Inca Empire celebrated Inti Raymi, a festival that honored the Inca religion’s powerful sun god Inti and marked the Inca new year.
- Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks, Alaska: Fairbanks can get up to 22.5 hours of daylight in the summer. To celebrate, Fairbanks residents hold the Midnight Sun (Baseball) Game - it has been played 114 times since 1906!
To learn more about what solstice and our history of celebrating the occasion, check out this article featured in National Geographic https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/what-is-summer-winter-solstice-answer-might-surprise-you/
Happy Summer from Vivacity :)