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| Summer - Are you ready?
Summer is one of the four temperate
season. It is characteristic with hot and often dry weather. In
many countries it is the time of school and university holidays.
Different definitions of the start and end days prevail.
Astronomically, summer begins with the summer solstice (around
21june in the Northern hemisphere, and 21 December in the Southern
hemisphere) and ends with the autumn equinox (around 21 September
in the Northern hemisphere and 21 March in the Southern
hemisphere). In meteorology, summer is defined by convention as the
whole months of June, July and August in the Northern hemisphere
and the whole months of December, January and February in the
Solstice is derived from two Latin words: sol meaning sun, and
sistere, to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer
solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the
sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an
imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it
Why does the summer solstice happen?
The seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5º tilt of the
earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating like a top or
gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continuously
towards a point in space near the North Star. But the earth is also
revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern
hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern
hemisphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is taken
place. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high
in the sky during summertime, and low during winter. The time of
the year when the sun reaches its maximum elevation occurs on the
summer solstice -- the day with the greatest number of daylight
Another terms for summer soltice
The Summer Solstice is also known as: Alban Heflin, Alben Heruin,
All-couples day,Feast of Epona, Feast of St. John the Baptist,
Feill-Sheathain, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Midsummer,
Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, Vestalia, etc.
Significance of the summer solstice:
In pre-historic times, summer was a joyous time of the year for
those Aboriginal people who lived in the northern latitudes. The
snow had disappeared-the ground had thawed out-warm temperatures
had returned- flowers were blooming- leaves had returned to the
deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and
other uses.Food was easier to find. The crops had already been
planted and would be harvested in the months to come soon. The
first or only full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition
holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives.
This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the
crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many
ancient peoples believed that the grand (sexual) unio" of the
Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was
unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their
weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for marriage
today. In some traditions, newly wed couples were fed dishes and
beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married
life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this
tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately
after the ceremony- The Honeymoon.
Midsummer celebrations in ancient
and modern times:
Ancient Celts: Druids, the priestly,
professional, diplomatic corps in Celtic countries, celebrated
Alban Heruin (Light of the Shore). It was midway between the spring
Equinox (Alban Eiler- Light of the Earth) and the fall Equinox
(Alban Elfed-Light of the Water). This midsummer festival
celebrates the apex of Light, sometimes symbolized in the
crowning of the Oak King, God of the waxing year. At his crowning,
the Oak King falls to his darker aspect, the Holly King, God of the
waning year. The days following Alban Heruin form the waning part
of the year because the days become shorter.
Ancient China: Their summer
solstice ceremony celebrated the earth, the feminine, and the yin
forces-complementing the winter solstice which celebrated the
heavens, masculinity and yang forces.
Ancient Gaul: The Midsummer celebration was called Feast of
Epona, named after a mare goddess who personified fertility,
sovereignty and agriculture. She was portrayed as a woman riding a
Ancient Germanic, Slav and Celtic tribes in Europe: Ancient Pagans
celebrated Midsummer with bonfires. It was the night of fire
festivals and of love magic, of love oracles and divination. It had
to do with lovers and predictions, when pairs of lovers would jump
through the luck-bringing flames. It was believed that the crops
would grow as high as the couples were able to jump. Through the
fire's power maidens would find out about their future husband, and
spirits and demons were banished. Another function of bonfires was
to generate sympathetic magic giving a boost to the sun's energy so
that it would remain potent throughout the rest of the growing
season and guarantee a plentiful harvest.
Ancient Rome: The festival of Vestalia held from JUN-7 to
JUN-15. It was held in honor of the Roman Goddess of the hearth,
Vesta. Married women were able to enter the shrine of Vesta during
the festival. At other times of the year, only the vestal virgins
were permitted inside.
Ancient Sweden: A Midsummer tree was set up and decorated in
each town. The villagers danced around it. Women and girls would
customarily bathe in the local river. This was a magical ritual,
intended to bring rain for the crops.
Essenes: This was a Jewish religious group active in
Palestine during the 1st century CE. It was one of about 24 Jewish
groups in the country and the only one that used a solar calendar.
Other Jewish groups at the time included the Sadducees, Pharisees,
Zealots, followers of John, and followers of Yeshua (Jesus).
Archeologists have found that the largest room of the ruins at
Qumran, location of the Dead Sea Scrolls, appears to be a sun
temple.The room had been considered a dining room by earlier
investigators, in spite of the presence of two altars at its
eastern end. At the time of the summer solstice,the rays of the
setting sun shine at 286 degrees along the building's longitudinal
axis, and illuminate the eastern wall. The room is oriented at
exactly the same angle as the Egyptian shrines dedicated to the
sun.Two ancient authorities - the historian Josephus and the
philosopher Filon of Alexandria had written that the Essenes were
The Natchez tribe in the southern U.S. worshiped the sun and
believed that their ruler was descended from him.Every summer they
held a first fruits ceremony. Nobody was allowed to harvest the
corn until the feast. Males in the Hopi tribe dressed up as Kachinas
- the dancing spirits of rain and fertility who were messengers
between humanity and the Gods. At Midsummer, the Kachinas were
believed to leave the villages to spend the next six months in the
mountains, where they were believed to visit the dead underground
and hold ceremonies on their behalf.Native Americans have created
countless stone structures linked to equinoxes and solstices. Many
are still standing. Its modern-day finder called one Calendar One.
It is in a natural amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in
Vermont.From a stone enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can
see a number of vertical rocks and other markers around the edge of
the bowl "At the summer solstice, the sun rose at the southern
peak of the east ridge and set at a notch at the southern end of
the west ridge." The winter solstice and the equinoxes were
Males in the Hopi tribe dressed up as Kachinas - the dancing
spirits of rain and fertility who were messengers between humanity
and the Gods. At Midsummer, the Kachinas were believed to leave the
villages to spend the next six months in the mountains, where they
were believed to visit the dead underground and hold ceremonies on
Native Americans have created countless stone structures
linked to equinoxes and solstices. Many are still standing. Its
modern-day finder called one Calendar One. It is in a natural
amphitheatre of about 20 acres in size in Vermont. From a stone
enclosure in the center of the bowl, one can see a number of
vertical rocks and other markers around the edge of the bowl
"At the summer solstice, the sun rose at the southern peak of
the east ridge and set at a notch at the southern end of the west
ridge." The winter solstice and the equinoxes were similarly
The Bighorn Medicine Wheel west of Sheridan, WY is perhaps
the most famous of the 40 or more similar "wheels" on the
high plains area of the Rocky Mountains. Mostly are located in
Canada. At Bighorn, the center of a small cairn, that is external
to the main wheel, lines up with the center of the wheel and the
sun rising at the summer equinox. Another similar sighting cairn
provides a sighting for three dawn-rising stars-Aldebaran, Rigel
and Sirius. A third cairn lines up with fourth star- Fomalhaut.
Europeans coined the term "medicine wheel". it was a term
used to describe anything native that white people didn't
Neopaganism: This is a group of religions, which are
attempted re-constructions of ancient Pagan religions. Of these,
Wicca is the most common. It is loosely based partly on ancient
Celtic beliefs and practices. Wiccans recognize eight seasonal days
of celebration. Four are minor sabbats and occur at the two
solstices and the two equinoxes. The other is major sabbats which
happen approximately halfway between an equinox and solstice. The
summer solstice sabbat is often called Midsummer or Litha. Wiccans
may celebrate the sabbat on the evening before, at sunrise on the
morning of the solstice, or at the exact time of the astronomical
event.Midsummer is the time when the sun reaches the peak of its
power, the earth is green and holds the promise of a bountiful
harvest. The Mother Goddess is viewed as heavily pregnant, and the
God is at the apex of his manhood and is honored in his guise as
the supreme sun.It is a time for divination and healing rituals.
Divining rods and wands are traditionally cut at this time.
Prehistoric Europe: Many remains of ancient stone structures can be
found throughout Europe. Some date back many millennia BCE. Many
appear to have religious and astronomical purposes while others are
burial tombs. These structures were built before writing was
developed. One can only speculate on the significance of the summer
solstice to the builders. Perhaps the most famous of these
structures is Stonehenge, a megalith monument on Salisbury Plain in
Wiltshire. It was built in three stages, between circa 3000 and
1500BCE. "The circular bank and ditch, double circle of
'bluestones' (spotted dolerite), and circle of sarsen stones (some
with white lintels), are concentric, and the main axis is aligned
on the midsummer sunrise--an orientation that was probably for
ritual rather than scientific purposes. Four "station
stones" within the monument form a rectangle whose shorter
side also points in the direction of the midsummer sunrise.
Some identical terms
Heat wave: prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity.
The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the
public during these periods of excessive heat and humidity.
Heat index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit that tells how
hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual
air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat
index by 15 degrees F.
Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms due
to heavy exertion. They usually involve the abdominal muscles or
legs. It is generally thought that the loss of water from heavy
sweating causes the cramps.
Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically occurs when
people exercise heavily or work in a warm humid place where body
fluids are lost through heavy sweating. Blood flow to the skin
increases, causing blood flow to decrease to the vital organs. This
results in a form of mild shock. If not treated, the victim's
condition will worsen. Body temperature will keep rising and the
person may suffer heatstroke.
Heatstroke: Heatstroke is life-threatening. A person's
temperature control system, which produces sweating to cool the
body, stops working. The body temperature can rise so high that
brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled
Sunstroke: Another term for heatstroke.