The longest day of the year was celebrated by thousands making journeys to Stonehenge near Salisbury to welcome in the summer solstice, watching the sun rise behind the entrance to the stone circle. Individuals trekked from all corners of the world to witness the alignment of the midsummer sunrise and the midwinter sunset. The solstice comes with connotations of religion and fertility and is regarded as the ending of spring in various regions. Spending time with friends and family is at the centre of the event, as it is a festival defined by an element of togetherness and warmth.
The welcoming in of the sixteen-hour day was described as a ‘beautiful spectacular’ by those making journeys to watch the historic event, which is defined by the congregations of druids and pagans who are big spectators of the yearly event. The Stonehenge summer solstice is regarded as a place of worship by individuals all over who visit to endure the channelling of the rays of sunlight into the centre of the monument, and it has been a significant time of celebration across history for many cultures that welcome in the event through various rituals and celebrations. Sweden in particular celebrates solstice with particular rigour, holding as much significance for the country as Christmas.
The summer solstice takes place during the hemisphere’s summer, and it describes the maximum tilting of the earth’s poles towards the sun. Taking place twice a year, during the solstice, the sun is at its highest position in the sky and it dictates a longer day and a shorter night. It is regarded as the middle of summer, frequently referred to as ‘midsummer’, yet is regarded by some as the beginning of summer. Solstice is deemed as not only representing turning seasons but it is also seen to be representing the cycle of life, death and rebirth. It has been noted by pagans as a day of ‘inner power and brightness’, and is one of the biggest events in the pagan calendar.
Edited By Nandini Roy
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