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Summer Solstice

“The Sun” by Cathy McClelland

As the southern hemisphere of the earth approaches winter the northern hemisphere is just beginning to welcome in summer. The first day of summer begins each year on June 21st. The Summer Solstice sun reaches its maximum height on the first day of summer. This is relatively the longest day of the year because the time lapse between sunrise and sunset is the longest. In fact the regions closest in proximity to the North Pole experience a 24-hour period of daylight called a “Polar Day”. A solstice happens only twice a year; in the winter when the sun reaches the southern most position in the sky and on the first day of summer when the sun is in its northern most position.

This extended period of sunlight continues to shorten the farther south you travel from the tip of the Arctic Circle. During the following two months the polar cap is bathed in continuous sunlight; meanwhile, the subarctic regions experience a shorter night beginning anywhere between 12am or 2am. As the summer progresses towards fall the path of the sun descends.

For centuries people have gathered together in various parts of the world to celebrate the Summer Solstice through music, art, dancing, and festivals. For our ancestors the Summer Solstice was a joyous occasion. Summer meant an abundance of crops as a result of the increased warmth and light from the sun. For that gift many gave thanks by way of celebration.

Our dependance on the sun and the earth’s resources is just as important to us today as it was for our ancient ancestors. In honoring an amazing phenomenon such as the summer solstice we teach our family to recognize the intricate details of nature and how to show appreciation for the many gifts our earth provides. With a focus on nature and giving here are some fun ideas to celebrate the first day of summer.

– Check the local newspaper or City website for celebrations in your area. Some businesses such as museums offer discounts to ring in the new season.

– Observe the sunrise or sunset.

– Create banners, sun masks (using paper plates, gold paints and jewels) and wreaths.

– Host a neighborhood parade or an impromptu music jam session in the park.

– Make fruit candles. Scoop out the insides of an orange or apple. Place a small candle inside or pour hot wax and add a wick.

– Have a fairy themed party.

– Have a campout in the back yard. Tell magical stories and let the imaginations run wild.

– Plant a garden. Set a place within for an enchanted fairy princess.

– Have a BBQ with a feast of roasted vegetables and fruits.

– Make individual sun shaped bread rolls.

– Make candle boats to release on the lake.

– Make a time capsule. Include pictures and drawings, things interested in, things everyone would like to change or goals. Seal the box or envelope until next year.

– Write a play to perform for friends and family.

– Find a You-Pick farm to pick berries.

– Come up with ways to save energy and water at home during the week.

– Help keep the earth beautiful by recycling and placing liter in garbage cans.