International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice is observed every year on June 21. The holiday was instituted by the United Nations to spread awareness on the solstices across religions and cultures. Numerous cultures and religions celebrate the solstice in their own way. While the interpretations, meanings, and significance of the solstice — when the sun reaches its highest or lowest point in the sky at noon, marked by the longest and shortest days — vary from culture to culture, the International Day of the Solstice is international. The day is during the summer solstice falling between June 20—22.
History of International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice
The United Nations came up with this celebration to acknowledge and spread awareness about the importance of the solstice to different cultures and religions regardless of their origins. Solstice refers to the day when the Sun reaches its northernmost or southernmost extent in its path.
Looking up from the Earth, the Sun appears to stop at its southern or northern limit on its daily path before reversing direction. Because the Sun looks like it has paused at its extreme limits, the event was named solstice, derived from the Latin words ‘sol’ meaning ‘Sun’ and ‘sistere’ ‘to stand still.’ The Sun appearing to move is not the Sun in motion. The Earth’s movements cause the poles to tilt towards and away from the Sun. The summer solstice or midsummer occurs when one of the Earth’s poles is tilted towards the Sun, causing the longest day of the year for that hemisphere. For the northern hemisphere, the summer solstice is in June. For the southern hemisphere, the summer solstice is in December.
Historically the summer solstice has been an important time for many cultures. Many holidays, rituals, festivals, and ceremonies are organized with various themes around religion, agriculture, and fertility rituals taking place during this time. Understanding the importance of these rituals and their symbolism along with the universality of these celebrations, the UN instituted the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice to encourage mutual respect and good neighborliness among different cultures.
International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice timeline
Greeks devise the celestial sphere and notice the solstice — the stand of the Sun.
Pagans celebrate Litha during the summer solstice honoring their Sun god.
The church sets John the Baptist’s birthday for midsummer linking the church to the solstice.
Barbara Luecke and Peter Toms organize the first Fremont Solstice Parade in Seattle.
International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice FAQs
Is June 21 always the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstices fall on any date between Jun 20—22.
Can you touch Stonehenge on Summer Solstice?
You can walk among the stones of Stonehenge on the summer solstice, unlike on other days.
Why is the Summer Solstice important?
The summer solstice is important for its association with fertility, agriculture, and food production.
How to Observe International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice
Join a midsummer celebration
From St. John’s feast to Litha, there are many celebrations on this day. Make sure to partake in one or more.
Host a party at home
Have a midsummer party at home. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, you can celebrate the longest day of the year with a lovely cookout with your family and friends.
Share your celebration rituals
Observing this day involves sharing your rituals with other cultures. Get your friends together and celebrate the solstice by incorporating all your celebrations together.
5 Interesting Facts About Summer Solstice
The sun stands along its path
The sun stands still directly on top of the Tropic of Cancer when it pauses along its path.
Sunrise is not any earlier
The day is the longest, but the sun doesn’t rise earlier, nor does it set any later than normal.
People get together at Stonehenge
Thousands gather at the World Heritage Site, Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice.
There’s a baseball game in Alaska
The people of Alaska organize a midnight baseball game known as the Midnight Sun Game.
The Earth is further away
While one of the poles tilts towards the sun, the earth is at its furthest distance from the sun.
Why International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice is Important
We love the history
We think it is so wonderful that these celebrations have lasted till now. We love being part of this continuity.
We want to learn about other celebrations
We all have our celebrations for the solstice, but we think it’s exciting to learn about others. We want to know how different cultures celebrate.
We want to feel united
We think that this is an opportunity to celebrate the unity of humanity. We can all celebrate solstices together.
International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice dates