Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Solstice!

My second favorite pagan holiday…

With arrival of the solstice, Summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere at 23:09 Greenwich MeanTime on 20 June 2012. 

Solstice is taken from the Latin solstitium, sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the idea that the noonday Sun appears to stop rising higher in the sky on this day.  It also marks the longest day – as measured from sunrise to sunset - of the year.

This and other celestial events were tracked by anonymous early peoples who may be regarded as humankind’s first astronomers using structures such as Stonehenge.

A pagan holiday since pre-historic times, Summer Solstice was co-opted and re-purposed by Christians for celebration as the birthday of John the Baptist.  Winter Solstice became the much more high profile Christmas.

These days various neo-pagans, history buffs, and amateur astronomers still pause to note the turn of the seasons as inscribed in the heavens.

Happy Solstice!