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 Happy Midsummer

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Happy Midsummer   Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:23 am

“As the sun spirals its longest dance, Cleanse us. As nature shows bounty and fertility. Bless us. Let all things live with loving intent. And to fulfill their truest destiny." – Wiccan blessing for the summer solstice



Today marks the astronomical beginning of summer, an annual occasion celebrated for at least several thousand years. The summer solstice was particularly significant among the Scandinavians, Celtic and Germanic tribes and others in Northern and Eastern Europe.

The solstice is actually a fleeting moment in time, when the sun is at its northern-most point in the sky, according to visualastrononmy.com. Consequently, June 20 or 21 each year is the longest day of the year – or put another way – the shortest night of year.

Of course, in the Southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December.

A Middle English word, solstice is derived from the Latin solstitium, from sol, meaning sun, and a combination of words meaning to standstill, according to merriam-webster.com.

The ancient Celts celebrated the summer solstice as Alban Heruin, meaning “Light of the Shore,” highlighting the length of the day’s sun rays and the halfway point between the spring and fall equinoxes.

In ancient Gaul, the summer solstice was commemorated with the Feast of Epona (meaning divine mare), a horse goddess and guardian of agricultural. In Sweden, the midsummer celebration included a tree – and around which women and girls danced –similar to a maypole, with the ritual intended to bring rain for the crops, according to religioustolerance.org.

In many cultures, the summer solstice was celebrated with bonfires in recognition of the sun’s power, and in an attempt to curry good favor and fortune for the crops.

Later, in Christian countries, the summer solstice became associated with the Feast of St. John the Baptist, which is celebrated a few days later on June 24.

The Chinese celebrate the solstice with the Festival of Li, the Goddess of Light.

Pagans and New Agers today celebrate the occasion annually by gathering at Stonehenge.

In her book, “The Summer Solstice,” Ellen Jackson recounted a story typical of the ancient Lithuanian midsummer ritual.

“Long ago on the summer solstice, a group of Lithuanian villagers climbed to the top of a hill carrying a wheel that had been soaked in tar and covered with bundles of straw,” Jackson wrote. “As the last colors of twilight slowly faded, the straw was set on fire with a torch.

“The villagers cheered as the blazing wheel rolled down the hill and into the river. Some of them jumped back and forth over the flames. The wheel was still burning as it sank into the water, and the villagers considered that a good omen, ” Jackson explained. “The harvest would be plentiful – even though the sun, like the wheel, would soon begin its descent in the sky.”


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Ninah

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PostSubject: Re: Happy Midsummer   Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:39 pm

Ahhh. I light a bonfire myself for the celebrations. Welcome summer!! sunny
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PostSubject: Re: Happy Midsummer   Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:41 pm

P. S.

I was wondering if any of you know....... Is this the Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere?

Also wondering.....
Why doesn't the Western calendar start the New Year on a Solstice?
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PostSubject: Re: Happy Midsummer   Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:10 pm

Ninah wrote:
P. S.

I was wondering if any of you know....... Is this the Winter Solstice in the Southern hemisphere?
Yes.

Ninah wrote:
Also wondering.....
Why doesn't the Western calendar start the New Year on a Solstice?
It comes close to starting on the Winter Solstice. I don't know why it doesn't start on the exact date.

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