As a team that loves to spread our sunshine, at ADT Solar we can honestly say that the summer solstice ranks up there with our favorite days.
First and foremost, this occasion is all about the sun. A no-brainer for us. And equally as good, it’s also the longest day of the year. More hours of sunshine? We’re all about that!
But there’s much more to the solstice than that and we bet that a lot of it is new to you. So, put on your shades, because we’re about to let the sunshine in with these eight summer solstice fun facts.
The summer solstice refuses to get tied down to a specific date. Instead, it’s celebrated each year on the day that the sun reaches its greatest height in the sky for the Northern Hemisphere. While the exact day changes, it always falls between June 20th and June 22nd. (1)
2. Taking its time
If it seems like sunsets go on for longer around the time of the solstice, that’s because they do. The sun sets more slowly at this time of year. What causes this more leisurely descent? The angle of the sun. A shallow angle creates a longer sunset, while a steep angle makes for a shorter one. The angle is shallower in the weeks leading up to and following the summer solstice because the sun sets farther from due west along the horizon. (2)
3. Not an early riser
You might assume that the earliest sunrise of the year occurs on the day of the solstice. It’s the longest day of the year, so it makes sense, right?
Well, this is a trick question of sorts, because the sun rises earliest on the days before the summer solstice. There are two forces responsible for the timing: the rotational axis and elliptical orbit of the Earth. And while the earliest sunsets happen before the solstice, the latest sunsets happen after it. (2)
4. A universe-al event
Earth doesn’t have exclusive rights to the summer solstice. Every planet in our solar system has one. However, the timing and frequency varies from one planet to another. Uranus, for example, only experiences the summer solstice once every 84 years. (3) That’s a good reason to throw a massive party!
5. Yin to the yang
You’ve likely seen the symbol for it, but do you know what yin-yang means? It’s the idea that two completely opposite characteristics can co-exist in harmony and complement each other. (4) Chinese tradition held that yin and yang waxed in reverse proportion to one another throughout the year. The summer solstice was viewed as yin and the winter solstice as yang in ancient Chinese culture. While yang was at the height of its power on the summer solstice, people celebrated the upcoming switch to yin on this occasion. (5)
6. 13-month calendar
There’s a small chance that every month could’ve been an even four weeks, if Moses B. Cotsworth had his way. The British railway system employee wanted to make this change to the traditional calendar by adding a 13th month. He launched a campaign in 1902, with the goal to add an extra month between June and July. Moses wanted to name the month “Sol” because the summer solstice would’ve taken place during the proposed additional month. (5)
As you can guess, the 13-month calendar didn’t see the light of day and neither did “Sol.” But the proposal certainly sheds light on the importance of the summer solstice to people around the world.
7. “What’s in a name?”
This line was made famous by the character Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, but the same could be asked about the summer solstice. How did the solstice get its name and what does it mean?
The word “solstice” is a combination of two Latin words:
“Sistere”―Meaning “to stand still”
Put these words together and, voila, you have “solstice!”
Why does “solstice” apply to this time of year? On the summer solstice and the days surrounding it, the sun doesn’t appear to change its relative position in the sky. As a result, the sun looks like it’s standing still. (5)
But “solstice” isn’t a global term for the occasion. The name varies from one country―and sometimes one culture―to another. For example:
- Some Christians honor John the Baptist’s birth by calling it “St. John’s Day.”
- The event is widely known as “Midsummer” in northern Europe.
- Neopagan groups celebrate the longest day of the year with the “Litha” festival.
8. Where in the world?
Since the summer solstice affects different places in the Northern Hemisphere in different ways, it’s fitting that each place celebrates it a bit differently. Tributes to the summer solstice include:
- Ottawa Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada ― This cultural event celebrates the solstice traditions of the First Nations people, including a traditional powwow.
- Secret Solstice Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland ― Ranking among the world’s worst-kept secrets, this festival had already attracted 8,000 attendees by its very first year, in 2014. And it’s no wonder, with music headliners playing inside of a glacier and a heated lagoon available to enjoy.
- Mountaintop bonfires in Tyrol, Austria ― Carrying on a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages, locals light bonfires set atop mountains as darkness falls, transforming the soaring mountain tops into beacons.
- Midsommar Festivals in Stockholm, Sweden ― Celebrated across all of Sweden, this collection of events tends to be informal, with Swedes partaking in traditional dances and adorning Maypoles with all manner of finery.
Put all that sunshine to good use
Picture this: your roof collecting loads of sunshine on future summer solstices and powering your home with it. Well, guess what? ADT Solar can make this daydream a reality with a solar energy system!
One of our knowledgeable Solar Energy Specialists can explain how to make the sun work for you. Curious about how we can help make your future bright? Speak with a Solar Energy Specialist.