By Andrew Dunn (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsmiley
At 4.15am this morning I was looking at the sky which was a vivid red colour. As the saying goes, "red sky in the morning,shepherds warning". I should have taken a photo of it with my ipad.
By 5.30am, the sky was back to white cloud. As a light sleeper, I was hoping to watch the sun rise, but it did not happen as the cloud cover was too great.
It is the longest day of the year or ‘Summer Solstice’ today, Sunday, 21 June, with the sun rising at 4.39am and setting at 9.28pm.
This year, the summer began with the solstice on June 21 at 12:38 P.M. EDT. It is also Father's Day in the U K being celebrated on the same day. Next year the solstice will be on June 20th.
The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice). Its origin can be found here.
A solstice happens when the sun’s highest point is at its furthest point from the equator. The sun appears to stop at this point before moving on again.
I have never been to Stonehenge to take part in the annual ceremony to watch the sun rise. This year there were an estimated 23,000 people, far less than 36,000 who turned up last year. By all accounts, the ceremony passed off peacefully and there are some photos here to look at.
Fire and Water:
In addition to the polarity between land and sky, Litha is a time to find a balance between fire and water. According to Ceisiwr Serith, in his book The Pagan Family, European traditions celebrated this time of year by setting large wheels on fire and then rolling them down a hill into a body of water. He suggests that this may be because this is when the sun is at its strongest yet also the day at which it begins to weaken. Another possibility is that the water mitigates the heat of the sun, and subordinating the sun wheel to water may prevent drought.
The solstice is also known as ‘Midsummer’s Eve’ and is a national holiday in Sweden and Finland.
So, however you are celebrating, be it with a tradition, with your father, or just enjoying the longest day of the year, I hope you have a very happy Sunday. I also hope we have a long hot summer!!