The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and the longest night of the year in the southern hemisphere. If you go far enough north, the sun doesn’t set at all, and we have the “midnight sun.” If you go far enough south, it doesn’t rise at all.
Summer Solstice 2023
The Summer Solstice falls on June 20th or 21st. The next one is Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
Traditional Northern Celebrations
In traditional cultures, the winter and summer solstices are the most important times of the year. Many ancient traditions celebrate the sun.
Most traditions celebrate their supreme god on their winter solstice, because it is the beginning of the agricultural cycle. The summer solstice is important because people are outdoors more at this time.
Saint John’s Eve
Saint John’s Eve is a pre-Christian summer festival that got associated with Saint John the Baptist, a Jewish preacher who some Christian’s consider to be the forerunner of Christ. By some biblical tradition, Saint John was born six months before Christ, so his feast is June 24th.
Yet, the celebration predates Christianity.
In Spain, especially in Catalonia and Valencia, it’s a time when families celebrate with bonfires on the beach. By tradition, jumping over the bonfire three times is a cleansing ritual.
In Puerto Rico (originally named San Juan, after Saint John), there is a tradition of falling into the water at midnight.
La Fête de la Musique
Parisian’s celebrate the shortest night with La Fête de la Musique, an all-night street festival of live music all over Paris. SummerStage usually presents a Fête de la Musique in Central Park.
Midsummer is an old English name for the Summer Solstice. Shakespeare’s comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and George Balanchine’s ballet of the same name refer to this time of year.
Midsummer is actually June 24.
Longest Night of the Year in the Southern Hemisphere
The June Solstice is the southern hemisphere’s winter solstice.
Bonfires of São Joao
In Brazil, the Bonfires of São Joao are a beloved winter solstice celebration.
In the Central Andes around Peru, Inti Raymi celebrates the Inca sun god.