The longest day of the year and the first day of Summer is on June 20. Most ancient cultures celebrated this day with elaborate rituals to their Sun deities. Whether it was Shemesh for the Canaanites & Hebrews, Sol Invictus for the Romans, Inti for the Inca, or Ra for the Egyptians, each culture developed beliefs and traditions surrounding their most powerful deity.

Desert sunrise

Today, we understand that the Summer solstice is caused by the tilt of the Earth. Each year in its orbit, the North Pole is pointed toward the Sun, putting the Sun at its highest position in the sky for the year over the Tropic of Capricorn. The Summer heat follows.

Although most of us don’t observe any religious ritual on this day, there are fun things we can do to make our own special observances. 

  • Stonehenge’s creators marked the solstices in its beautiful design. If you aren’t traveling to the site in person, there are plenty of fascinating videos online that you can watch. Everything from documentaries about its construction and meaning, to videos of live, modern-day events.
  • Connect with the Sun by sunbathing. Build up some natural Vitamin D in your skin, but be careful to not burn. A chemical-free sunscreen can help protect you from damaging UV rays.
  • Make a suncatcher with your kids. There are many instructions online for simple suncatchers for your elementary kiddos, or create an artisan version yourself.
  • Spend time in your garden. And if you don’t have one, plant something. Convert the Sun’s power into plant life in your own yard.
  • Read a great story about the Summer solstice:
    • FOR KIDS: Under Alaska’s Midnight Sun
    • FOR ADULTS: Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is a favorite
Seasonal Marker
Tracking the Equinoxes & Solstices in a Fountain Hills, AZ back yard. Photo ©2020 Joe Bill

One of my favorite ideas is building a season marker in your own yard. In the image above, the stones to the left point toward the Winter solstice, the stones in the middle point toward the Equinoxes, and the stones to the right point toward the Summer solstice. If you start a seasonal marker now, you will have it complete in just 6 months.