Today is the longest day of the year, or Summer Solstice! It is not an official, religious, or even a UN observance day but Summer Solstice has had symbolic and spiritual significance around the world for thousands of years.
Humans have always wondered and been mesmerized by the power of sun. The word ‘solstice’ derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
According to the BBC different religions have celebrated Summer Solstice in the following ways: “Celts celebrated with bonfires that would add to the sun’s energy, Christians placed the feast of St John the Baptist towards the end of June and it is also the festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of light.”
In the UK alone, hundreds of different traditions are practiced during Summer Solstice. Gathering at Stonehenge is particularly popular for the ancient, religious significance of the place. Stonehenge is usually only accessible from a distance and visitors can admire it from the Visitor’s Center or from along a guided path. On the longest day of the year, however, the organization that protects English historic artifacts and environment, English Heritage, allows 20,000 people to come and celebrate among the stones freely.
Apart from the celebrating and praying, Summer Solstice used to have a third purpose: the day used to be absolutely essential for one’s well being. Associated with agriculture, the summer solstice was a reminder that a turning point in the growing season had been reached.