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What is a Solstice: Astronomical Meaning and History

What is a Solstice: Astronomical Meaning and History

People have long known about the existence of these transition points, but the physical essence of these phenomena became clear only with the development of astronomy. We are talking about stars on a certain date, about two solstices (winter and summer) and two equinoxes (spring and autumn).

The summer solstice is marked by the farthest distance of the Sun from the celestial equator. The point of the summer solstice is at this time in the constellation Taurus.

A rather slow displacement of the equinox and solstice points occurs mainly as a result of precession, which means that the directions of the earth’s axis are gradually changing, occurring under the influence of the attraction of the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun. Find out how the solstice is important in culture and tradition.

Summer Solstice June 20-21

Days will be shortened until December 22. It is then that the winter solstice will take place, which will mark the shortest day of the year.

The summer solstice occurs when the tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation towards the Sun takes on the slightest significance. On the day of the solstice, the Sun passes through the ecliptic points farthest from the celestial equator. Otherwise, it can be expressed as follows: the solstices are the moments of the greatest (in winter) or the smallest (in summer) deviation of the earth’s axis from the Sun.

What is the summer solstice?

For several days before and after this moment, the Sun practically does not bend, its midday heights in the sky are almost unchanged, as well as the duration of daylight hours, which is why the name was fixed – the solstice. For more than one millennium, this day has had incredible meaning. Even in ancient times, when people lived in harmony with the land, this event was of tremendous importance in the religions of many nations. It was a day of magic, various rituals, and fortune-telling. Since ancient times, the holiday has accounted for many pagan holidays, such as Lita, Midsummer’s Day, Kupala.

The astronomical meaning of the solstice

If in the northern hemisphere the summer solstice is the longest day and the shortest night, then in the southern hemisphere at this moment is the longest night and the shortest day.

But it should be noted that, as with any rule, there is an exception here. During the summer solstice above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets over the horizon, and the day lasts around the clock. For the entire day beyond the Antarctic Circle, the Sun does not appear over the horizon, the night in Antarctica lasts all 24 hours.

Celebration History

Our ancestors treated the Sun with trepidation and respect, therefore they especially celebrated this holiday. Historians are still arguing about which of the peoples of the world was the first to single out the solstice day as a holiday. It is only known that it was celebrated not only in Europe.

Celebration history

In the days of paganism, it was one of the main holidays of the year. It was believed that the more rituals you spend on this day, the more prosperous and calm your future life will be. Therefore, everywhere they burned fires, danced around the fire, weaved wreaths, and let them down the river.

The magical meaning of the holiday of the solstice

The time comes to make wishes, during this period the most cherished of them are fulfilled. It was believed that one could even change one’s destiny.

Since pagan times, the summer solstice has meant the highest flowering of all the forces of nature, so our ancestors considered it magical and performed various rituals.

They say that at this time, everyone can become a bit of a wizard, just by making a wish. And the Sun itself will help to carry it out.

It was believed that if you swim before sunset, you can get rid of all diseases. Also, only after that day was it allowed to pluck the branches onto the bath brooms, if before, then the broom would bring only cheese and diseases.

Features of the holidays on the day of the solstice

The bonfire was traditionally kindled by an elder or a respected guy by rubbing. The girls jumped over the fire, as it was believed that it would cleanse from damage and the evil eye. And if you jump with someone in a pair, holding hands, this is for a wedding soon and long life together. By burning the clothes taken from the patient, it was possible to burn the disease itself. The remnants of the fire were never left behind, it was a magical agent that promotes fertility, so they were scattered around the gardens and fields.

On this day, the peak of the healing properties of any herbs fell. They were often collected by making amulets and infusions. There was also a legend about the flowering of the fern that night. It was believed that it blooms at midnight for several seconds, it is very difficult to pluck it since all forest evil spirits prevent it. He will also be able to find treasures and open any locks, will receive the gift of foresight, and will be able to take on any shape.

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