4 Fun Facts: Summer Solstice

Summer is officially here! The summer solstice occurs June 20 this year, marking the official start of summer. Here’s more about why it’s a holiday and its historical and contemporary significance:

1. What does “Solstice” mean anyway?

Solstice means “sun-stopping” in Latin describing the way the sun looks on this day. Historically, the solstice was an important date that helped farmers know when to plant, grow and harvest crops.

2. What happens during a Solstice?

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and occurs when the northern hemisphere is tilted more toward the sun. The heat of summer comes from the tilt of Earth’s axis, not from how far away it is from the sun.

3. How long has this been celebrated?

Historically, many people have gathered to celebrate the summer solstice. This day has long been recognized by different ancient cultures. In fact, the Great Pyramids of Egypt were built according to the summer solstice as the sun stays directly in between the two pyramids when looking from the Sphinx. Stonehenge in the United Kingdom has also been associated with the solstices for more than 5,000 years!

4. How can you celebrate?

The summer solstice does not have the same agricultural or cultural importance as it once did. However, you can keep the celebrations alive. This is a great opportunity to show off your trivia knowledge about astronomy, culture and history. It is also a good excuse for a summer gathering of family and friends! A picnic, party or BBQ are fun ways to start off this summer season. Here’s one of our favorite refreshing recipes, perfect for a sweet side dish:

Watermelon Salad

Half a large, seedless watermelon diced into cubes
8 ounces of crumbled feta
1 cup of chopped basil leaves
½ cup of chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Toss watermelon, feta, basil and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle will balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Enjoy!