Did you wake this morning at 04:26? I did.* I rose with the sun in celebration of the longest day of the year. I bathed my face in the fresh, morning dew, ready to enjoy the summer solstice – the day when the Sun appears to reach its most northerly excursion relative to the celestial equator. In our northern hemisphere, the area north of the Arctic will receive a full 24 hours of sunlight, while areas south of the Antarctic circle will have a full day of total darkness.
Nearer home, today we will enjoy a full 17 hours, 36 minutes and 24 seconds of daylight. Solar noon, if you want to time your lunch hour precisely, occurs at 13:14. The sun sets tonight at 22:02. It’s all downhill tomorrow when we lose a full three seconds of light and start the gradual journey to autumn.
Solstice through time
The changing of the seasons has been marked throughout history in literature and cultural symbolism. In the north we tend to light fires to mark winter events, but the ancient Celts, Slavs and Germans celebrated summer with bonfires. They believed that fire had the power to enhance the sun’s energy and ensure a good harvest. Bonfires could also banish evil spirits, they believed.
In ancient Greece, summer marked the new year and the build-up to the Olympic Games. It was also a time when slaves could temporarily turn the tables on their masters.
How are you celebrating the longest day? With a picnic in the park, or a walk along the beach? Maybe a barbecue with family and friends? However you celebrate, we wish you a long, happy summer full of sunshine and warmth. Go on – have an ice-cream.
We’ll leave you with some lines from Edinburgh writer Alexander McCall Smith’s poem, Summer:
“May soft winds blow about your head,
May sun caress your tender cheeks
May tears of gentle rain then wash
The marks of fretful care away.”
*That is a lie. I didn’t.
Read about what the libraries are during this summer
Photo source Joseph R