The Summer Solstice
Where I live, in Santa Barbara, California, the entire city celebrates the summer solstice with a fantastic parade, street theater, children's activities, games and music. Everyone goes a little crazy on the summer solstice -- the day on which the sun is at its highest point in the sky. The summer solstice is an ancient holiday that's been celebrated for thousands of years by people all over the world -- but especially in northern Europe.
The winter solstice was of great concern to ancient Europeans who knew that many would die when food became scarce and the weather turned cold. The summer solstice, on the other hand, was a time of incredible joy -- with just a hint of sadness because people knew that the warm days of summer wouldn't last.
Ancient solstice ceremonies often involved magic and merriment. Ghostly flames were said to appear on the summer solstice. These flames marked the place where golden treasure could be found. Young girls cast spells to learn the names of their future husbands. Torches were carried through the fields to drive disease from the crops. All kinds of magical creatures -- fairies, selkies, and spirits -- could be seen during this special time
So on the summer solstice, pour yourself a glass of your favorite brew, and toast the magic and mystery of this special day.
By Ellen Jackson, author of THE SUMMER SOLSTICE, Millbrook Press, 2001.) Select The Summer Solstice to see her children's book with stories from around the world about the solstice as well as simple science and fun projects.
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