Summer solstice 2015: When is the longest day of the year and what is its significance?

Everything you need to know about the summer solstice and how to celebrate it this Sunday

Siobhan Fenton
Saturday 20 June 2015 08:28
Visitors to Stonhenge for the summer solstice may be in luck this year
Visitors to Stonhenge for the summer solstice may be in luck this year

What is it?

The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. It’s the day when there are the most hours of sunlight.

The name comes from the Latin for 'sun stands still'

The name comes from the Latin solstitium meaning ‘sun stands still’.

It happens because the sun heading north, stops at the Tropic of Cancer before returning Southwards.

When is it?

It can fall on different dates depending from year to year, either 20th, 21st or 22nd June.

The summer solstice is the day of the year with the most hours of sunlight

This year it’s taking place on Sunday 21st June.

The sun is expected to rise at 4:25am.

Weather forecasters are predicting a warm weekend with temperature highs of 24C.

Why is it significant?

The summer solstice is a special day for many as it means the start of the summer.

It has links to many ancient cultural practices as different cultures have celebrated it being symbolic of renewal, fertility and harvest.

A Druid celebrates the summer solstice at Stonehenge

How to celebrate it?

Every year, hundreds of pagans and non-pagans congregate at Stonehenge to see the sun rise in the morning and welcome in the summer.

Some pagans and druids perform a fire ritual to celebrate the occasion. This involves people with unlit candles forming a circle around a large lit central candle and lighting theirs off it one at a time.

A girl takes part in the summer solstice dawn celebrations after druids, pagans and revellers gathered for the Summer Solstice sunrise at Stonehenge

In Sweden, it’s traditional to eat your way through the entire day. Feasts typically involve lots of potatoes and herring.

Some also the day as the Festival of Li, the Chinese Goddess of Light.

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