The summer solstice officially marked the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere this morning at 7:28 EDT. As in many years past, Mother Nature has selected the first week of summer to also deliver the first week of sustained hot temperatures to the Northern Shenandoah Valley.
Solstice is derived from the combination of Latin words meaning “sun” + “to stand still” (sol + stice). As the days of summer lengthen in Clarke County the sun rises higher until it appears to stand still in the sky. The Summer Solstice is observed around the world as a major celestial event resulting in the longest day and the shortest night of the year.
In our region the Summer Solstice is celebrated in June, however, people living in the southern half of the globe observe their longest summer day in December.
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures to climb into the 90’s on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. People working outdoors should drink plenty of fluids and wear a hat and eye protection at all times. Animals should be provided with shade and plenty of water.
The awesome power of the sun has prompted civilizations to celebrate the Summer Solstice for centuries. In days past the Summer Solstice was also known as Midsummer (think Shakespeare), St. John’s Day, or the by the Wiccan Litha. The Celts celebrated the first day of summer with traditional dancing & bonfires that were hoped to increase the sun’s energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.
The most enduring modern tie may be the Druid celebration of Summer Solstice as the “wedding of Heaven and Earth,” hence preserved in the present day belief of “lucky” weddings in June.