It happened yesterday, June 21st at precisely 7:28 AM EDT, in the Northern Hemisphere. It is officially the first day of summer. It is also called Midsummer because it is roughly the middle of the growing season throughout much of Europe.
"Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere," to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it "stands still."
As a major celestial event, the Summer Solstice results in the longest day and the shortest night of the year. The Northern Hemisphere celebrates in June, but the people on the Southern half of the earth have their longest summer day in December.
In pre-historic times, summer was a joyous time of the year for those Aboriginal people who lived in the northern latitudes. The snow had disappeared; the ground had thawed out; warm temperatures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm/hot weather remained before the fall, they noticed that the days were beginning to shorten, so that the return of the cold season was inevitable.
The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the hives.
This time of year, between the planting and harvesting of the crops, was the traditional month for weddings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the "grand [sexual] union" of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for marriage today. In some traditions, "newly wed couples were fed dishes and beverages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The surviving vestige of this tradition lives on in the name given to the holiday immediately after the ceremony: The Honeymoon."
Some more summer solstice facts:
. Awed by the great power of the sun, civilizations have for centuries celebrated the first day of summer otherwise known as the Summer Solstice
. Ancient pagans celebrated Midsummer with bonfires, when couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as the couples were able to jump.
. Midsummer was thought to be a time of magic, when evil spirits were said to appear. To thwart them, pagans often wore protective garlands of herbs and flowers. One of the most powerful of them was a plant called 'chase-devil', which is known today as St. John's Wort and still used by modern herbalists as a mood stabilizer.
. The Celts & Slavs celebrated the first day of summer with dancing & bonfires to help increase the sun's energy. The Chinese marked the day by honoring Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.
. Perhaps the most enduring modern ties with Summer Solstice were the Druids' celebration of the day as the "wedding of Heaven and Earth", resulting in the present day belief of a "lucky" wedding in June.
. Today, the day is still celebrated around the world -- most notably in England at Stonehenge and Avebury, where thousands gather to welcome the sunrise on the Summer Solstice.
. Pagan spirit gatherings or festivals are also common in June, when groups assemble to light a sacred fire, and stay up all night to welcome the dawn.
People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice.
Pagan Beliefs “Christianized!
According to the 12/15/81 Watchtower page 87, and the 4/1/84 Watchtower page 9, many pagan beliefs have been "christianized" as noted below.
Bonfires are lit along the eastern coast of Spain and in many countries of Europe on the eve of June 24, termed “Saint John the Baptist’s” day on the Catholic calendar. What do bonfires have to do with John the Baptist? Barcelona’s morning daily “La Vanguardia” admits that the entire festivity actually “represents the Christianization of the summer solstice.” This astronomical event, when the sun appears to stand still in its heavenly northward or southward motion, motivated festivities and licentious merrymaking among the ancient pagans.
“In A.D. 601, Pope Gregory the First, known as Gregory the Great, issued an edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert,” states a recent issue of Natural History magazine. “Instead of trying to obliterate peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope’s instructions were, use them. If a group of people worship a tree, rather than cut it down, consecrate it to Christ and allow them to continue their worship.” Calling this a “brilliant concept” and the “basic principle in Catholic missionary work,” the article continues: “Catholic holy days were purposely set at the time of native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25 because it corresponded to the midwinter celebration of many peoples. For the same reason, Saint John’s day was set at the summer solstice.”
However “brilliant” the idea was toward the spreading of so-called Christianity, it certainly is not God’s way of doing things. When the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, they were instructed by God to destroy thoroughly all pagan worship there. (Numbers 33:52; Deuteronomy 7:5, 6) And for true Christians, “clean and undefiled” worship requires that they keep themselves “without spot from the world.”—James 1:27.
Rather than ‘Christianize’ such pagan events, the apostle Paul sets the right course for true Christians by asking: “What sharing does light have with darkness?” Then he admonishes: “'Get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing'". 2Corinthians 6:14-17
Aren't we grateful that we are part of Jehovah's clean organization, and no part of "Babylon The Great"? "For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." Revelation 18:4-8.
May we continue to be active and zealous in helping honest-hearted ones to know the true God Jehovah and get out of "Babylon The Great" before her "sudden" and "swift" demise. Revelation 18:7,8,21.
This is Raven-as the crow flies!