Get your game face on, it’s the summer solstice, officially the first day of summer.
And judging by the attempts of the sun to break through the cloud and gloom in most parts of the West Kootenay, the powers that be are aware of the significance of the day as well.
Summer solstice occurs exactly when the Earth's and the moon's axial tilt is most inclined towards the sun, at its maximum of 23° 26'. Today is an instant in time, often referred to as Midsummer, although the day is not in the middle of the season at all.
One of the most significant aspects of the day — pagan rituals aside — is that it is the day on which the longest period of daylight occurs. The sun reaches its highest position in the sky on the day of the summer solstice.
However, the day has held some meaning worldwide for hundreds of years, with most cultures having held recognition of sign of the fertility, involving holidays, festivals and gatherings. Locally, the biggest gathering remains the Slocan Valley’s Soulstice in Winlaw. The word solstice derives from Latin, sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).
Solstice celebrations are pre-Christian in origin and were important in Northern Europe.
Solstice celebrations still centre around the day of the astronomical summer solstice. There is some belief that mid-summer plants like calendula had miraculous healing powers and were picked on this night.
Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again.