June 21, 2011 is Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere….

the first  day of summer and the longest day of the year.

Summer Solstice occurs exactly when the Earth’s axial tilt is  most inclined towards the sun.  The word “solstice” actually derives from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere  (to stand still).

While it is Summer Solstice today in the Northern Hemisphere, it is actually Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, where it is the shortest day of the year.  Because 90% of the human population lives in the Northern hemisphere and only 10% lives in the Southern hemisphere, most people are celebrating Summer Solstice today.

The Northern Hemisphere includes all of North America, the northern reaches of South America, about two-thirds of Africa, all of Asia excluding (parts of  Indonesia) and all of Europe.   The Southern Hemisphere includes most of South America, one-third of Africa, all of Antarctica, a small sliver of Asia (parts of  Indonesia) and all of Australia/Oceania.

Throughout time, the Summer Solstice has been celebrated by  different civilizations. The Celts and Slavs celebrated the first day of summer  by lighting bonfires to increase the sun’s energy. The Chinese mark the day by  honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light. The most enduring celebration of Summer Solstice ties in with the Druids, who celebrated the day  as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth.” To this day, many still believe that June  weddings are lucky. Perhaps, the largest modern day celebration for Summer Solstice occurs every summer in England. Thousands  gather every year to welcome the sun on Summer Solstice at  Stonehenge. Here in the United States, Santa Barbara in California celebrates Summer Solstice with a parade and festival.



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