The Castle of Montebello is a splendid medieval building located in Poggio Torriana, a small village in the...
Summer solstice :This is when the astronomical summer begins
During the year there are some days that take on an important meaning for the astronomical events that occur on such days. June 21st, for example, is the day of the summer solstice. Italian Traditions will guide you on the discovery of this particular phenomenon explaining what it is and we will also tell you about the legends and mysteries concerning this particular atmospheric phenomenon.
What is it and when is it celebrated?
June 21st is the longest day of the whole year as it is the time when the sun reaches its northernmost point of its annual movement in the sky. In Italy in fact, the sun will illuminate the country for 15 hours and 14 minutes and will offer the opportunity to benefit from the maximum possible hours of light. From the next day the sun will start to move south: This is the period of the year that scientists define as “astronomical summer”. The end of the astronomical summer is December 21st, the day of the winter solstice, and the shortest day of the year.
These astronomical phenomena are due to the trajectory with which the sun orbits the earth. The plane of the orbit and the axis of the earth are not perpendicular and this asymmetry generates from the earth the apparent motion of the sun during the course of the year. In the northern hemisphere, therefore, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year while in the southern hemisphere it is the shortest. Due to the phenomenon of precession of the equinoxes every year the time of the solstice is delayed by about six hours compared to the previous one and to remedy this problem the leap year was introduced every four years.
Mysteries and legends of the summer solstice
For millennia the summer solstice was considered by the populations of the past as a special day and has always been linked to ancient traditions and esoteric rituals even in Italy. According to some interpretation, this occurrence would be the cause of the creation of communication portals between different space-time dimensions. The ancient Romans celebrated Giano Bifronte (two.faced Janus) who was depicted with a key in one hand and a stick in the other to symbolize water and fire. According to tradition, on this day it was necessary to purify oneself by jumping over fires or bathing in currents of water.
The most significant place, when it comes to the summer solstice is definitely Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. On this day of the year it is possible to see a very rare phenomenon. During the solstice the sun passes through a structure composed of two monoliths and illuminates the altar which is located in the centre of the site: for the ancient Celtic populations of the place it acted as a calendar
Not all days of the year are the same: once a year the day is longer than the others. And it has been celebrated since ancient times. If you want to discover what to visit in Italy during the summer, we suggest you also read this article too.