24 Facts About the Summer Solstice

The longest day of the year isn’t usually the hottest.

The summer solstice is about more than just transitioning from spring to summer.

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, so soak up some of those direct sunbeams and celebrate the start of summer with these 24 facts.


The summer solstice is one of the two types of solstice. During this event, we experience the longest day of the year. The other solstice is the winter solstice.

The name comes from the fact that the sun appears to stand still.
The term solstice is derived from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because the sun's relative position in the sky at noon does not appear to change much during the solstice and its surrounding days. The rest of the year, the Earth's tilt on its axis—roughly 23.44 degrees—causes the sun's path in the sky to rise and fall from one day to the next.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice occurs on June 20 or 21. In the Southern Hemisphere, it occurs on December 21 or 22.
An exception was the summer solstice in 1975, which occurred on June 22.

The Earth's axial tilt during the summer solstice is 23.44 degrees, which makes the North and South Poles point as close as possible to the Sun.

Every year, two weeks after the summer solstice, the Earth reaches its furthest point from the Sun.
You might think that because the solstice occurs in summer, it means the Earth is closest to the sun in its elliptical revolution. However, the Earth is actually closest to the sun around the time the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter and is farthest away near the summer solstice. The warmth of summer comes exclusively from the tilt of the Earth's axis, and not from how close it is to the sun at any given time.

For meteorologists, the summer solstice isn't the start of the summer season. They base seasons on the annual temperature cycle rather than Earth's position relative to the Sun.

The hottest day of the year occurs a month or two after the summer solstice. It doesn't happen in the summer solstice because our ocean absorbs and releases heat slowly, causing a delay.

After the summer solstice, the North Pole gradually tilts away from the Sun as the Earth orbits around it.

The summer solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere) also marks the beginning of Cancer season. According to astrologers, this season can be an emotional roller coaster!

The summer solstice marks a dark time in science history.
Legend has it that it was on the summer solstice in 1633 that Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his declaration that the Earth revolves around the sun; even with doing so, he still spent the rest of his life under house arrest.

Some ancient civilizations had only two seasons, summer and winter, explaining why the summer solstice is referred to by other countries, such as Northern European countries, as midsummer.

Every summer solstice, yoga enthusiasts fill the streets of New York City's Times Square for the free yoga classes annually hosted during the astronomical event.

On the summer solstice, a beam of sunlight aligns with a boulder containing a spiral petroglyph at Puerco Pueblo, Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, USA. This continues for two weeks, with the sunlight pointing at the center at 9 am local time.

In Alaska, the summer solstice is celebrated with a midnight baseball game.
Each year on the summer solstice, the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks celebrate their status as the most northerly baseball team on the planet with a game that starts at 10 p.m. and stretches well into the following morning—without the need for artificial light—known as the Midnight Sun Game. The tradition originated in 1906 and was taken over by the Goldpanners in 1960, the first year of their existence.

Thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
People have long believed Stonehenge was the site of ancient druid solstice celebrations because of the way the sun lines up with the stones on the winter and summer solstices. While there's no proven connection between Celtic solstice celebrations and the megalithic monument, these days, thousands of modern pagans gather at the landmark to watch the sunrise.

Sweden and Finland consider midsummer a public holiday. The former celebrates it on a Friday, around June 19 to 25, while the latter's midsummer holiday falls on a Saturday, between June 20 to 26.

Pagans celebrate the summer solstice with symbols of fire and water.
In Paganism and Wicca, Midsummer is celebrated with a festival known as Litha. In ancient Europe, the festival involved rolling giant wheels lit on fire into bodies of water to symbolize the balance between fire and water.

In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice heralded the new year.
In ancient Egypt, the summer solstice preceded the appearance of the Sirius star, which the Egyptians believed was responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile that they relied upon for agriculture. Because of this, the Egyptian calendar was set so that the start of the year coincided with the appearance of Sirius, just after the solstice.

Xiàzhì is an ancient Chinese festival which also refers to the summer solstice.

According to Chinese traditions, the summer solstice is believed to be the day with the strongest yang energy. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that one must do yin-related activities to balance both energies, as too much yang energy can lead to negative emotions, such as anger and stress.

The tradition of eating noodles on Summer Solstice has ancient and agricultural roots. Summer Solstice marks the time when wheat becomes ripe. In ancient China, foods made by fresh wheat would be ceremoniously offered to the gods at this time of year.
Because it's so hot, cold sesame noodles are the most popular. Meanwhile, during the winter solstice, the foods traditionally eaten are dumplings.

Also read: 92 Interesting Facts About China

Ħagar Qim is a tourist site in Malta often visited during the summer solstice. During sunrise, the temple's "oracle hole" aligns with the Sun's rays, casting a disk onto one of its stone slabs.

In San Juan, Spain, people celebrate the arrival of summer during the Night of San Juan, a few days after the summer solstice, by going to beaches and making enormous bonfires. They believe that doing so drives evil spirits away.

The summer solstice in Quito, Ecuador, is just like a normal day because only six minutes of daylight are added due to the country's location on the equator.

Wikipedia - Summer solstice / Space.com - Summer solstice / Time / EarthSky / National Geographic / Pop Sugar / Britannica / WWLP / Times Square / CLI / Live Science / Euro News / Almanac / World Atlas / Space.com - Winter solstice / Fusion Health / Fly Abroad Education / CNN / Wikipedia - Midnight Sun Game / Mental Floss / The Fact Site