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domingo, 20 de junio de 2010
SUMMER SOLSTICE 2010
• in the Northern Hemisphere, summer solstice begins on Jun 21 2010 at 7:28 AM EDT
• in the UK, on June 21, 2010 at 11:28 UT
Sol + stice derives from a combination of Latin words meaning "sun" + "to stand still." As the days lengthen, the sun rises higher and higher until it seems to stand still in the sky.
As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December.
The Summer solstice, also called 'Litha', marks the first day of the season of summer.
On this day you can see a very old custom at Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England.
What is Stonehenge?
Stonehenge is one of Europe's biggest stone circles. A lot of stones are ten or twelve metres high. The earliest part of Stonehenge is nearly 5,000 years old. It is thought that the Druids used Stonehenge for a calendar.
Who are/were Druids?
The Druids were the priests in Britain 2,000 years ago. They used the sun and the stones at Stonehenge to know the start of the months and seasons. There are Druids in Britain today too.
What happens at Stonehenge on June 21st?
- the Longest Day of the Year
Every June 21st hundreds of people go to Stonehenge to watch the sun rise. The sun shines on one famous stone - the Heel stone. For the Druids this is a very important moment of the year.
Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice, Midsummer (see Shakespeare), St. John's Day, or the Wiccan Litha.
The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun's energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.
Today, the day is still celebrated around the world - most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.
Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn.