Did you know that the summer solstice is the first official day of summer? Although you might have already started celebrating summer on the day your kids got out of school, June 21st is actually the beginning of this beloved time of year. Here are a few things to know about the summer solstice and a few tips for celebrating with your kids.
What is the Summer Solstice?
The summer solstice comes every year on either June 20th or 21st and is the first day of summer. Because of the Earth’s tilt as it orbits around the sun, the summer solstice is also the longest day of the year. Every day after that becomes shorter than the day before. It also means warmer weather as the closer proximity to the sun warms our ocean waters. This, of course, does not apply to our friends in the Southern Hemisphere, who will be celebrating the winter solstice (which is also the shortest day of the year) in a few days.
The Culture and History of Summer Solstice
For thousands of years, many cultures have acknowledged and celebrated the summer solstice, erecting monuments and passing down traditions, all in celebration of sunlight and warm weather. The summer solstice was a time to celebrate renewal, life, fertility and the potential for a good harvest.
From the ever-popular Stonehenge to Ancient Rome’s Festival of Vestalia and the beginning of the Greek calendar, celebrations honoring the summer solstice are wrought with history and culture.
Celebrating Summer Solstice with Kids
The summer solstice is a fun lesson for kids of all ages — and celebrating it will bring new meaning to their much-anticipated summer time.
Spend Time Outdoors
For younger kids, get outside and take note of how long the day is. Celebrate by going on a dinnertime picnic and notice how the sun sits high in the sky for longer. Sun crafts are always fun for all ages, too — and help the little ones develop fine motor skills.
Make It a Learning Experience
Give older kids a summer research project that can spark curiosity about the world. Learn about Stonehenge or other summer solstice monuments and reconstruct them with household materials.
Even as a family, the summer solstice is a great time to start traditions, too. Take the same photo every year and note where you were on the longest day of the year. Watch the sunset together, discussing the accomplishments of first half of the year and goals for the second.
The summer symbolizes the start of new life and warmth. Embrace that day for all that it promises!