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June 20, 2012     The Adams County Record
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Page 18 Wednesday, June 20, 2012 The Adams County Record Summer Solstice celebrations: ancient and modern The Summer Solstice is also known as: Alban Heflin, Alben Heruin, All- couples day, Feast of Epona, Feast of St. John the Baptist, Feill-Sheathain, Gathering Day, Johannistag, Litha, Midsummer, Sonnwend, Thing-Tide, Vestalia, etc. Overview People around the world have observed spiritual and religious seasonal days of celebration during the month of June. Most have been religious holy days which are linked in some way to the summer solstice. On this day, typi- cally ;ON-21, the day,me hours are at a maximum in the Northern hemisphere, and night time is at a mini- mtlm. It is officially the first day of summer. It is also referred to as Midsummer because it is roughly the middle of the growing sea- son throughout much of Europe. "Solstice" is derived from two Latin words: "sol" meaning sun, and "sistere; to cause to stand still. This is because, as the summer solstice approaches, the noonday sun rises higher and higher in the sky on each successive day. On the day of the solstice, it rises an imperceptible amount, compared to the day before. In this sense, it "stands still: (In the southern hemi- sphere, the summer solstice is celebrated in December, also when the night time is at a minimum and the day- time is at a maximum. We will assume that the reader lives in the Northern hemi- sphere for the rest of this essay.) Why does the summer sol- stice happen? "l-he seasons of the year are caused by the 23.5 tilt of the earth's axis. Because the earth is rotating on its axis like a top or gyroscope, the North Pole points in a fixed direction continu- ously -- towards a point in space near the North Star, But the earth is also revolving around the sun. During half of the year, the southern hemisphere is more exposed to the sun than is the northern hemi- sphere. During the rest of the year, the reverse is true. At noontime in the Northern Hemisphere the sun appears high in the sky during summertime, and low during winter. The time of the year when the sun reaches its maximurQ eleva- tion occurs on the summer solstice -- the day with the greatest number of daylight hours. It typically occurs on, or within a day or two of, JUN-21 -- the first day of LIMITED ME OFFER! UP TO ALL SMARTPHONES Samsung Showcase TM a Galaxy S phone Motorola Milestone X2" S39 99 after $30 mail-in rebate 2-yr plan with data required g ...................... S19 99 NO REBATE 2-yr plan with data required 1 Like us on Facebook faceboo k.corn/alltelwireless e. LLtoL" wireless alltelwireless.com/storelocator 1-800-alltel- 1 I StJIBJE""r ALLL];EL TERIM3 AND CONDITIONS; SEE STORE OR ALLTEI.WIBEEESS.COM. Activation and phone-appropriate plan on the AIItel network required 0nly at participating AIItel locations for a limited time. If supplies of [ featured pherres sq' ott w may substitute phones but are not required tod s. 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" l" mjs " resm've [ , , , , ............. r ......... = , , ...... - - r  .............. , . = 100768[ summer. e lowest eleva- tion occurs about DEC-21 and is the winter solstice -- the first day of winter, when the night time hours reach their maximum. Significance of the summer solstice: In pre-historic times, summer was a joyous time of the year for those Aboriginal people who lived in the northern lati- tudes. The snow had dis- appeared; the ground had thawed out; warm tempera- tures had returned; flowers were blooming; leaves had returned to the deciduous trees. Some herbs could be harvested, for medicinal and other uses. Food was easier to find. The crops had already been planted and would be harvested in the months to come. Although many months of warm/hot weather remained before the fall, they noticed that the days were beginning to shorten, so that the return of the cold season was inevitable. The first (or only) full moon in June is called the Honey Moon. Tradition holds that this is the best time to harvest honey from the bee hives. This time of year, between the planting and harvest- ing of the crops, was the traditional month for wed- dings. This is because many ancient peoples believed that the "grand [sexual] union" of the Goddess and God occurred in early May at Beltaine. Since it was unlucky to compete with the deities, many couples delayed their weddings until June. June remains a favorite month for mar- riage today. In some tradi- tions, "newly wed couples were fed dishes and bev- erages that featured honey for the first month of their married life to encourage love and fertility. The sur- viving vestige of this tradi- tion lives on in the name given to the holiday imme- diately after the ceremony: The Honeymoon." Midsummer celebrations in ancient and modem times: Most societies in the northern hemisphere, ancient and modern, have celebrated a festival on or close to Midsummer: Ancient Celts: Druids, the priestly/professional/ diplomatic corps in Celtic countries, celebrated Alban Heruin ("Light of the Shore'). It was midway between the spring Equinox (Alban Filer; %ight of the Earth") and the fall Equinox (Alban Elfed; "Light of the Water"). "This midsum- mer festival celebrates the apex of Light, sometimes See FACING PAGE, Itgl