Let There be Light: June 21 Marks Start of Summer in Northern Hemisphere

The exact start of astronomical summer is 5:14 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time in the Northern Hemisphere. That’s when the North Pole leans closest to the sun, making it look like the sun is at its highest point of the year, USA Today reported.

The sun will rise at 5:24 a.m. in New York and set at 8:30 p.m. Across the ocean, in Athens, sunrise will be at 6:02 a.m. while sunset will be at 8:50 p.m. That allows for plenty of sunlight to get things done or for leisure activities.

It is interesting to note that Greece is among the top three European destinations with the most days of sunshine per year and hours of sunshine per day.

Depending on the shift of the calendar, solstices can occur anywhere between the 20th to the 22nd day of the month. There will be around the same number of hours of daylight for the next few days before the slow descent to the winter solstice in December.

Summer Solstice Primer

The name “solstice” can be traced back to Latin roots. Ancient peoples had noticed that the sun stopped moving north in the sky during summer and eventually went southward when fall began. The word comes from the words “sol,” which means sun, and “stitium,” which means still, or stopped.

To this day, cultures around the world continue to celebrate the day with feasts, bonfires, songs, and picnics.

On some calendars, it was seen as marking the start of the New Year while also serving as a reminder of the Olympic Games which would be about a month later. ​​Kronia, a feast celebrating Cronus, the god of agriculture, was held around the same time.

The Greeks’ otherwise strict social code was upended during Kronia, “with slaves participating in the merriment as equals or even being served by their masters,” according to History.com.

Ancient Greeks also celebrated the resurrection of the Daughter of Persephone and glorified Dionysus, the liberator of human souls, according to Art Therapy Center. The ancient Greeks also symbolized the cultivation of wheat with the cultivation of the soul, it is noted.

In England, Stonehenge precisely lines up with the sun’s movement on the summer and winter solstices. This has made the mysterious rock formation among the most popular places to observe the solstice. Other monuments, such as Karnak in Egypt and Chankillo in Peru, also show how people worldwide have noted the sun’s northern and southern journeys for more than 5,000 years, according to The Conversation.

In the Southern Hemisphere, June 21st marks the Winter solstice, or the shortest day of the year, as the Earth’s poles tilt away from the sun, and it reaches its lowest elevation in the sky. The month of December also has a solstice, but in that case, the positions are reversed. That is when the Southern Hemisphere experiences its first day of summer with an incredibly long day and marks the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

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