Going back to the Stone Age, the Summer Solstice has been observed by people all over the world
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the shortest night. In the Northern Hemisphere it takes place between June 20 and 22, depending on theyear. This year, the summer solstice will occur on Thursday, June 21. Humans may have observed the summer solstice as early as the Stone Age and many cultures around the world still celebrate the day with feasts, bonfires, picnics and songs.
The summer solstice, the day when the Northern Hemisphere receives more daylight than any other day of the year, marks the start of astronomical summer and the tipping point at which days start to become shorter and nights longer. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin words “sol” (sun) and “stitium” (still or stopped).
Ancient folks noticed that as summer progressed, the sun stopped moving northward in the sky, then begin tracking southward again as summer turned to autumn. Neolithic humans may initially have started to observe the summer solstice as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops. In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice corresponded with the rise of the Nile River. According to ancient Greek calendars, the summer solstice marked the start of the New Year. In the days leading up to the summer solstice, the ancient Romans celebrated Vestalia, a religious festival in honor of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. During Vestalia, married women could enter the temple of Vesta and leave offerings to the goddess in exchange for blessings for their families. In ancient China, festivities celebrated Earth, femininity, and the “yin” force.
Before Christianity, ancient Northern and Central European pagans, including Germanic, Celtic and Slavic groups, welcomed the summer solstice, Midsummer, with bonfires. It was thought that bonfires would boost the sun’s energy for the rest of the growing season and guarantee a good harvest for the fall. Bonfires also were associated with magic, was thought to be strongest during the summer solstice. It was believed that bonfires could help banish demons and evil spirits and lead maidens to their future husbands.
Many Native American tribes took part in solstice rituals, some of which are still practiced today. The Sioux, for instance, performed a ceremonial sun dance around a tree while wearing symbolic colors.
Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice today. Midsummer festivities are especially popular in Northern Europe where bonfires are lit, girls wear flowers in their hair and homes are decorated with garlands and other greenery. Neopagans, Wiccans and New Agers around the world hold summer solstice celebrations. Each year, thousands gather at Stonehenge to commemorate the longest day of the year.
[divider]Summer Solstice Celebration in Brooklyn[/divider]
Celebrate the longest day of the year with the Summer SOULstice Music Fest, a day-long community party celebrating local musicians, local businesses, and local culture, at the Black Lady Theatre. This event, which is part of the citywide Make Music New York festival, features live bands, food and drinks, kid-friendly games and more. To see the complete lineup, go here.
Make Music New York, a festival that celebrates the musician in all of us and aims to connect New Yorkers to their communities and with each other, takes place every summer solstice. On this special “music holiday,” music makers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are empowered to take center stage and share their skills and passions through live performances in public plazas and parks, on sidewalks and in front of shops, and in partnership with cultural institutions and businesses across all five boroughs. To see other events happening in Brooklyn, go here.
Summer SOULstice Music Fest at the Black Lady Theatre is free, but registration is highly encouraged.
Summer SOULstice Music Fest
When: Thursday, June 21, 11:00am – 11:00pm | Free
Where: The Black Lady Theatre, 750 Nostrant Aven, Brooklyn, NY 11216