Summer solstice is considered to be a significant time of the year in many cultures and is marked with festivities and rituals. The summer solstice or estival solstice, also known as midsummer occurs when each hemisphere has its maximum tilt towards the sun, it happens twice a year, once in each hemisphere. During the solstice, the sun travels the longest path through the sky and that day has the most daylight. It generally happens between 20-22 June in the Northern hemisphere and between 20-23 December in the Southern hemisphere known as the Winter solstice.
As this year’s summer solstice nears, during a normal scenario people from all around the world would be planning a trip to Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, England for the annual summer solstice festival held on 21st June every year. However, this year is not like any other. Due to the pandemic, it isn’t possible to celebrate it in a normal way. But the pagans and the travellers have nothing to worry about. Like everything else nowadays, the England Heritage has a plan, they announced that the event will be live-streamed across all its social media handles.
Stonehenge director Nicola Tasker said, “We hope that our [livestream] offers an alternative opportunity for people near and far to connect with this spiritual place at such a special time of year and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”
For some, the Stonehenge Summer Solstice is merely a tourist attraction but for others, it is a sacred pagan event. More than 20,000 people attend it every year.
“In this ancient world, the changing of the seasons and the cyclical nature of growth, death, and rebirth were the most essential truths, upon which the balance of life itself was hung,” CNN reported in 2019. “And it’s this powerful connection to the pagan past that still draws people to the site today.”
The stones erected around 2500 BC, are carefully lined up along with the movements of the sun. If one stands in the middle of the stone circle on midsummer’s day, the sun appears just to the left of the Heel stone during the sunrise. Archaeological evidence shows that there was another stone on the left of the heel stone, the two framing the sun as it rose. On a midwinter’s day, the entire system is reversed.
The entire Stonehenge systems seem to be built according to the extreme limits of the sun’s movement and therefore positioned in relation to the solstice.
This year the Stonehenge summer solstice is going to be extra special as many more home-based pagans and travellers will be able to join in on the live stream and share the momentous day together.
Follow the Livestream on June 21 on English Heritage’s social media channels.
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