What is the summer solstice?

Formentera beach, in the Balearic archipelago

Our planet, like all the others, revolves around itself and is also orbiting its star, which in this case is the Sun. Every so often the daylight hours change, they are reduced or increased, depending on the apparent height of the star king.

Towards the penultimate week of June, between the 20th and 21st, the summer solstice occurs in the Northern Hemisphere. In the other half of the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, this event occurs between December 20 and 21. But, What exactly is it and why is it so important?

What is the definition of solstice?

Ecliptic of the Sun

It is known as the solstice time of year when the Sun passes through one of the farthest points on the ecliptic from the equator. In doing so, the maximum difference in duration between day and night is given. Thus, during the summer solstice the day is longest, while the winter solstice is the shortest.

What is the summer solstice?

To understand it better, we are going to start by explaining what the ecliptic is. As well. As we know, the sun is a star that is always fixed in the sky; However, from our perspective here on Earth it appears that it is actually moving. This imaginary path that the Sun "travels" is known as the ecliptic., which is a line that runs around the globe during the year. This curved line is formed by the intersection of the plane of the Earth's orbit with the celestial sphere.

When the Sun reaches its highest apparent height over the Tropic of Cancer, summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere; On the other hand, if it occurs over the Tropic of Capricorn, then it will be in the Southern Hemisphere where the day will be longest. When is the summer solstice? In the Northern Hemisphere it is June 20 or 21, while in the South it is December 20 or 21.

Why isn't the summer solstice the hottest time?

Mediterranean Sea

It is often thought that that day, the first of the summer season, is the hottest. But it doesn't really have to. The Earth's atmosphere, the land we walk on and the oceans absorb part of the energy from the solar star and store it. This energy is released again in the form of heat; however, keep in mind that While the heat is released from the earth fairly quickly, the water takes longer.

During the big day, which is the summer solstice, one of the two hemispheres receives the most energy from the Sun of the year, since it is closer to the king star and, therefore, the rays of the mentioned star arrive more straight. But the temperature of the oceans and the land are still more or less mild, for now.

This explains why even though the planet is covered by 71% water until mid-summer there will be no particularly hot days.

Curiosities about the longest day of the year

Nile river

This day is awaited by many. It is the day when you want to go out and meet friends to celebrate that summer has finally returned and that we will soon have free time that we can take advantage of to disconnect and dedicate ourselves to what we like the most. But, Do you know how it is celebrated?

The summer solstice has been celebrated for a long time, even before humanity began to build houses as we know them today. It was a day where power and magic were the real protagonists, which would serve to purify themselves while they thanked the Sun for the crops, fruits and the increase in daylight hours.

In Ancient Egypt, for example, the rising of the star Sirius coincided with the summer solstice and the annual flooding of the river that ensured their continuity: the Nile. For them it was the beginning of a new year, because only after the river had risen could they grow their food.

What is the origin of the Fiesta de San Juan?

Saint John festivity

This is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. Finding the exact origin is lost in time. Yesteryear the Sun was believed to be in love with the Earth and that is why he did not want to abandon her. For this reason, the humans thought that they had to give energy to the sun king on June 23, and for that what better than lighting bonfires.

But also it was believed to be the best time to drive away bad spirits and attract good ones. Still, with the arrival of Christianity two millennia ago, this celebration lost its charm. According to the sacred texts, Zacarías ordered to light a bonfire to announce to his relatives the birth of his son Juan Bautista, which coincided with the night of the summer solstice. To commemorate that date, Christians in the Medieval Era lit large bonfires and performed various rites around it.

Today takes advantage of that day to meet friends on the beach, around the fire and enjoy; although there are still some rites that persist, such as jumping waves, going over bonfires or taking a bath so that good luck smiles on us.

When is the summer solstice in 2017?

Sunset in summer

What promises to be one of the most special days of the year 2017, will be the Wednesday 21 June at 06: 24 hours, that is, it will coincide with the official date with the beginning of the summer season.

And you, do you know how you are going to celebrate the summer solstice?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *



  1. Responsible for the data: Miguel Ángel Gatón
  2. Purpose of the data: Control SPAM, comment management.
  3. Legitimation: Your consent
  4. Communication of the data: The data will not be communicated to third parties except by legal obligation.
  5. Data storage: Database hosted by Occentus Networks (EU)
  6. Rights: At any time you can limit, recover and delete your information.