In 2022, the summer solstice will occur on June 21 at 3:14 a.m. MDT. Although summer temperatures arrive well beforehand, this official start to summer marks the longest period of daylight in the calendar year. The summer solstice is the astronomical start to summer and is the day when the sun’s rays strike the northern hemisphere of the Earth at the most direct angle. Here are some interesting facts about the summer solstice and some ideas for kicking off summer festivities.
Summer Solstice 101
Many people don’t realize that the summer solstice does not occur on the same date each year. On this day, the sun is visible at its northernmost point and appears to come to a standstill for a short period. Because we mark the day when this solar phenomenon happens, the solstice can occur on any day between June 20 and June 22. Try this: at solar noon—when the sun is at its highest point—go in the sunlight and look at your shadow. It will appear at its shortest.
Celebrate the Solstice With … Strawberries?
In many locations in the northern hemisphere, people associate the summer solstice with strawberries. Many people call June’s full moon the Strawberry Moon. In fact, Swedish people like to eat the first strawberries of the season on this day. In the midwestern and northeastern U.S., strawberries are also ripening. Although the climate around Gallup isn’t the most hospitable for strawberry growing, you can still pick up some fresh strawberries and create a summery-themes strawberry shortcake or eat them as part of a refreshing fruit tray.
Bonfire for the Family
A bonfire is a traditional way to celebrate this time of year in many cultures. In Europe, some places still light bonfires and torches that brighten the evening sky. While lighting a huge bonfire might not be ideal in the hot, dry summer months of New Mexico, you can scale it down and mark the occasion with a family fire pit or even fire up the grill for an evening barbecue. For thousands of years, many places and cultures marked the summer solstice emphasized gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the changing season.
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Start a Summer Solstice Tradition
Although the solstice is the longest period of daylight, it is not when we get our earliest sunrise. It is also not the same day that we see the latest sunset. For some, it can feel like time slows down a little on the summer solstice. And in fact, the sun does take longer to set on this day because of the sun’s angle. If you are near an open space, consider preparing an evening picnic and watching the long sunset with a loved one. You could start your solstice tradition to mark this special day.
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