As the sun creeps up over the hills and into your town on June 20 (or the 21st, depending on your timezone), you’ll know it’s here. That blessed time of year when barbecues and beach trips reign, when work slows and summer holidays mean getting together with friends and family. Just thinking about it likely brings up the smell of fresh cut grass and the taste of cold lemonade. Friends, the Summer Solstice—also known as the First Day of Summer—is here. While the introduction of the summer season may feel like an especially Americana tradition, societies have been celebrating this hallowed day for thousands of years. Some of the earliest party animals were the ancient Mesopotamians, Celtic Druids, Chinese, and Egyptians, and all of these cultures had their own ways of celebrating that make even our craziest backyard barbecues look tame. When was the last time you had a multi-story bonfire and danced around it naked? That’s what we thought. But cultures have had good reason to celebrate since ancient times right up until today. On the Summer Solstice the sun stays in the sky the longest it will all year, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors or time with family and friends.
Why We Love Summer Solstice
A. Welcome the dog days
School’s out, and for many businesses, summer also marks a slowdown period. Perhaps we leave the office a little earlier, or our schedules aren’t packed quite as full with meetings. We plan family vacations and take extended time off, which research has shown is a critical part of staying focused and committed to your work when things aren’t so slow. It’s a time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
B. It’s pastime all over the world
From baseball in the United States to fiesta season in Spain, summer is deeply rooted in traditions all over the northern hemisphere. One of the most common summer traditions includes travel, which has enabled people from all over the world to learn more about the summertime traditions of other countries.
C. Summer makes us happy
We all know the early morning rays of summer bring a smile to our face, but there’s plenty of scientific proof to back that up. One recent study conducted by psychologists at Utah’s Brigham Young University found that temperatures, pollution, and rain didn’t have nearly as much of an effect on a person’s mood as the amount of sunlight they received. The most significant variable that positively affected people’s moods was the amount of time between sunrise and sunset. So, get out there and take advantage of all that vitamin D.
How to Celebrate Summer Solstice
1. Don’t miss a minute
Yes, this requires waking up early — very early — but don’t let that stop you. This actually starts the day before by making a list of everything you want to accomplish on June 20. Try to wake up before the sunrise, and find a place to watch it. Then, go about completing your list. Don’t rush too much; you’ve got plenty of time today. Then, find a spot to watch the sun go back down. It may only be by a few seconds, but you just successfully spent the longest day of the year being extremely productive.
2. Get outside
All over the world, one of the most common ways to celebrate the Summer Solstice is to spend it outside. Take the family camping, have a cookout with your best friends, make a slip’n slide in the yard for the kids. All of these are surefire ways to take full advantage of the prolonged sunlight.
3. Do as the ancients did
If you’re up for a crazy party, do some research into how ancient cultures welcomed the summer season, and host a party with more or less the same celebrations. For example, if you wanted to emulate Northern European culture, you could throw a Litha party. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables that are ready for picking at this time of year, have a giant bonfire of oak and dance wildly around a maypole. Encourage ancient-era clothing for a really memorable, albeit a bit strange, Summer Solstice celebration.
Summer Solstice - Survey Results
FULL RANKING OF AMERICA’S TOP 35 HOT DOG-LOVING U.S. CITIES
#1: St. Louis
#3: Virginia Beach
#4: Kansas City
#7: Oklahoma City
#9: New Orleans
#11: Ft. Lauderdale
#12: San Antonio
#16: San Francisco
#18: Palm Springs
#20: Las Vegas
#24: Dallas / Ft. Worth
#25: Los Angeles
#32: San Diego
#33: Washington DC
#35: New York City