- June 20 -

Summer Solstice - 1st Day of Summer

The summer solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year, respectively, in the sense that the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset on this day is a maximum for the year. According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the summer solstice also marks the beginning...

Summer Solstice - 1st Day of Summer

The summer solstice is the longest day and shortest night of the year, respectively, in the sense that the length of time elapsed between sunrise and sunset on this day is a maximum for the year. According to the astronomical definition of the seasons, the summer solstice also marks the beginning of summer.
In the southern hemisphere, winter and summer solstices are exchanged. The summer solstice marks the first day of the season of summer. The declination of the Sun on the (northern) summer solstice is known as the tropic of cancer (23° 27').
The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet's semi-axis, in either the northern or the southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star (sun) that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt toward the sun is 23° 26'. This happens twice each year, at which times the sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the north or the south pole.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most recognize the event in some way with holidays, festivals, and rituals around that time with themes of religion or fertility:
Tiregan (Iran)
Midsummer’s Eve (Scandinavia)
Kupala Night (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia)
Saint Jonas' Festival (Lithuania)
Kupala fertility rite
Wianki (Poland)
Jani (Latvia)
Juhannus (Finland)

Summer solstice
Solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
Summer solstice, the two moments during the year when the path of the Sun in the sky is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere (June 20 or 21) or farthest south in the Southern Hemisphere (December 21 or 22).
When on a geographic pole, the sun reaches its greatest height, the moment of solstice, it can be noon only along that longitude which at that moment lies in the direction of the sun from the pole. For other longitudes, it is not noon. Noon has either passed or has yet to come. Hence the notion of a solstice day is useful. The term is colloquially used like midsummer to refer to the day on which solstice occurs. The summer solstice day has the longest period of daylight – except in the polar regions, where daylight is continuous, from a few days to six months around the summer solstice.
The summer solstice occurs during a hemisphere's summer. This is northern solstice in the northern hemisphere and the southern solstice in the southern hemisphere. Depending on the shift of the calendar, the summer solstice occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 each year in the southern hemisphere and between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere.

Source:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/573384/summer-solstice
http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/SummerSolstice.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_solstice

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More holidays on this day:

World Refugee Day
International Ride to Work Day
Flag Day (Argentina)

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