Midsummer Night under a Full Strawberry Moon Jun 19, 2016 12:42:34 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jun 19, 2016 12:42:34 GMT -5
Midsummer Night under a Full Strawberry Moon
As the summer solstice approaches, people start talking about the days getting shorter. There's a very British pessimism that it's all downhill from here and we might as well pack away our shorts and sunglasses and dust off our Wellington boots in preparation for autumn.
But the summer is far from over. As well as being the longest day of the year, the solstice is also a time for shenanigans at Stonehenge, general celebrations and a pause to celebrate the summer. And if the solstice itself wasn't enough, this year we get the bonus of a big beautiful Strawberry Moon, which hits its peak on the same day.
Here's everything you need to know about this year’s summer solstice:
Midsummer is generally understood to mark the middle of summer – even though some of us may feel like we haven't really had the first half yet. Technically, it's when the tilt of Earth's axis is most inclined toward the sun and this is why we get the most daylight of the year. At the winter solstice, Earth is tilted farthest away from the sun, hence shorter hours of daylight and the shortest day. The word solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
In the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice takes place between June 20 and 22. This year it's on Monday, June 20. In London, on the summer solstice, the sun will rise at 4:43 a.m. and set at 9:21 p.m. Near Stonehenge in Salisbury, sunrise will be at 4:52 and sunset at 9:26.
Why Stonehenge? The midsummer solstice is being celebrated at Stonehenge Monday, June 20, into Tuesday, June 21. Thousands flock to the English Heritage site for the solstice in a tradition which has its roots in pagan times, when Midsummer Day was considered to have special power. Of those who attend, many call themselves Druids, but others are merely tourists.
The way the stones are positioned is said to be aligned with sunrises on the two annual solstices. Although not much is known about its formation, the stones’ alignment are believed to be associated with whatever religious, mystical or spiritual elements were central to its construction.
The solstice is also celebrated at Avebury stone circle.
Celebrating the Solstice. It's not just for the arch-Druids in Wiltshire – there are celebrations worldwide among many different cultures. The holidays, festivals and rituals tend to have themes of religion or fertility. In Latvia, there's Jani, wherein women wear wreaths on their heads. Estonia has Jaanipäev or St John's Day, which marks a change in the farming year. Wianki takes place in Poland, with roots in a pagan religious event, and Kupala Night is celebrated in Russia and Ukraine, where people jump over the flames of bonfires in a ritual test of bravery and faith.
Strawberry Full Moon. If the summer solstice wasn't iconic enough, this year it coincides with the full moon, which hits its peak on the same day – something that hasn't happened since 1948. “Having a full moon land smack on the solstice is a truly rare event,” says Farmer’s Almanac astronomer Bob Berman.
The June full moon was known to American Indian tribes as the "Strawberry Moon," because it marked the beginning of the strawberry season and served as a signal to start gathering ripening fruit.
The Days Shorten. The days, of course, will grow shorter between now and the winter solstice December 21, but don't worry, we're not talking long, dark nights quite yet.
Source: Kirstie McCrum and Sophie Curtis, The Mirror, June 19, 2016.