The summer solstice, or Midsummer, marks the longest period of daylight in the year; when the tilt of the Earth's axis is most inclined towards the sun. This happens each year between June 20th and June 22nd, this year falling on Saturday 20th June 2020. The day is a brilliant one of celebrations across the northern hemisphere.
Earlier this week at the Cosy Cottage Workshop in Malton, the team were chatting about celebrations from across the world. We began to research and learn about other cultures across the globe and wanted to share our discoveries with you.
The significance of the summer solstice varies between cultures but each tends to emphasise this as a time for growth, renewal and reconnecting with nature. What's interesting is just how closely this reflects our current daily life, as lockdown begins to ease and our sleepy town of Malton begins to wake up again.
The Ancient Egyptians
The Ancient Egyptians aligned the Great Pyramids and Sphinx with a relationship to the summer solstice. The sun rises between two of the pyramids, when viewed from the Sphinx, on the morning of the summer solstice.
Fire is fundamental to the celebrations in Denmark as it's believed this deters evil spirits. Much like Bonfire night in the UK, huge bonfires are lit beneath the figure of a witch, made from straw and cloth. The fires are traditionally said to keep witches at bay.
Norwegians also host mock weddings between couples or children to represent the renewal of life.
For Swedes, midsummer is all about collecting herbs and summer flowers. This tradition is rooted in fertility. The herbs and flowers are hung in doorways or left in water overnight before being used to wash the next morning. Others gather herbs at sunrise to draw medicinal and medical properties from them to use in curing and charms.
Iceland sees 3 days straight of midnight sun becuase it's so far north that it sits next to the Arctic Circle. Celebrations are held during the Secret Solstice Music Festival and the energetic participate in the Midnight Sun Run.
Over in Fairbanks, Alaska, a game of baseball has been held annually since 1906 over midnight. The game starts at around 10:30 pm and continues through as late as 2 am.
Live at Stonehenge
For over 5000 years, Stonehenge has been associated with the winter and summer solstices. Every year people gather together at Stonehenge in Wilshire to sing, dance and watch the sun rise over the Heel Stone. It's one of the world's most popular summer solstice celebrations. With COVID-19 putting a stop to large gatherings, the lovely people at English Heritage are offering the next best thing. For the first time in history, Stonehenge will be livestreamed!
You can watch the livestream on the English Heritage Facebook page. Tune in from 20:41 on Saturday 20th June for the sunset and 4:07 on 21st June for the sunrise.
New Beginnings Here in Malton
For many cultures, midsummer is the time for renewal and as the Summer Solstice Sun rises over our home here in Malton, Yorkshire, we're sensing parallels between what's happening in 2020 and what has happened for centuries at this time of year. This week our temporarily sleepy town, has started to wake up. Stores have reopened and visitors have returned to shop, wander around and sip drinks from the plethora of local cafes.
Malton is being reinvigorated and we're so excited to welcome more fresh beginnings over the next few months.