This Friday, June 21st, marks the Summer Solstice in North America. 

Summer Solstice, or Midsummer Day, occurs when the Sun’s rays are directly lined up with the Tropic of Cancer, 23.5 degrees North of the equator. This allows for the longest period of daylight in the year for those in the Northern Hemisphere, a reason for celebration for many countries and cultures. The word Solstice comes from the Latin word Solstitiumsol (sun) and stitium (to stop), which helps to describe the day that never seems to end. Traditionally, it was known as the wedding of heaven and earth, a day of alignment with the cosmos. For farmers, it meant the midpoint between the hardships of planting and harvesting (and a much needed rest). The sunshine on this day is said to have strong restorative powers, making those who revel in it appear younger and healthier. Even the morning dew, if walked through with bare feet, is said to make one more viral and less prone to illness. 

Across the world, the Solstice invokes the spirit of celebration with parades, concerts, and festivals. In Sweden, they have a country-wide Midsommardagen festival to honor the day of light. Little girls are known to collect nine different types of flowers, and on the eve of the Solstice, they place them under their pillows so that they might dream of their future husbands. The day of- men, women, and children all wear freshly woven wreaths and dance about the maypole.  At Stonehenge, near Salisbury England, many gather as they have for thousands of years to greet the rising sun. It is tradition in these countries, along with many others, to try to stay up all night, singing and dancing around a bonfire. Special events are also prevalent in North America, often with additional environmental and ecological themes. 

So what will you do with the longest day of sunlight? Have a bonfire and roast marshmallows as the sun slowly dips into the night sky? Go camping and enjoy the benefits of relaxing in nature? Go on a fishing trip and try your hand at outdoor cooking? As David Suzuki points out, this “Longest Day of Play”, is not to be wasted! For myself, I’m unsure what I will do. Perhaps it will have to be that first bonfire of the year, or a drive out into the countryside. With the thought of thousands, maybe millions (!), of people out celebrating the day, I know I won’t be inside. I may not be singing or dancing, but I will be actively appreciating what a beautiful country I live in and how much I love the summer sun! 

My reasons for running off to Sweden only grow…
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