NOTE: Summer solstice is the longest day of the year. On the other hand, winter solstice is the shortest day of the year also the longest night of the year.
1. Solstice was celebrated by ancient civilizations
In Ancient Greece, festival of Kronia would be held during summer solstice in honor of Cronus (Kronos) – god of the harvest. While on the winter solstice, there would be a celebration honoring the god of the sea, Poseidon.
In Ancient China, the summer solstice was the yin (阴) and the winter solstice was the yang (阳). In Chinese beliefs, yin and yang shows a balance of life in the universe and also distinction between good and bad.
In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice helped the civilizations to predict the rise of the Nile River annually, where Nile would flood to nourish the land and very crucial to their food system. And during the winter solstice, Egyptians would celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the birth of Horus – son of Isis.
2. Nowadays it is still celebrated around the world
Around the summer solstice, People across China would gather to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival – traditional boat races with painted carvings of dragons. While in Alaska, the solstice is celebrated with a late-night baseball game. This tradition started back in 1906 and has been celebrated for more than one hundred times.
And, perhaps most famously, the Stonehenge in England, thousands of modern pagans would gather at the center of the landmark to celebrate and watch the sunrise. It was believed that Stonehenge was build by ancient druids and used it as a place to do worship and because of the way the sun rises and sets in perfect alignment with the stones during summer and winter solstices.
3. Earth is either farthest or closest away from the sun
One might think that because the summer solstice occurs in summer season, it means that the Earth is closest to the Sun. However, it’s actually the complete opposite. The Earth is actually closest to the Sun around winter solstices and is farthest away around the summer solstice.
4. Summer in the north means Winter in the south, and vice versa
When people in the Northern Hemisphere experience the summer solstices, people in the south experience the winter solstices. Vice versa. The winter solstices in the Northern Hemisphere are always the same day as the summer solstices in the Southern Hemisphere.
5. Earth is not actually the only planet with solstices
Planets in our solar system other than Earth also have their own summer and winter solstices. They may not have a Stonehenge where countless people get together to worship the changing of season, but they do got solstices of their own. Uranus, for instance, the summer and winter solstices happen for 42 years long. Talk about a never ending summer and winter!