“In summer, the song sings itself.” ~ William Carlos Williams

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere begins on June 21, 2011 with the summer solstice when the Sun is directly above that imaginary line 23.5° north of the equator called the Tropic of Cancer. Winter will begin for we Northerners  on the winter solstice, when the Sun is above the Tropic of Capricorn, 23.5° south of the equator.

The summer solstice is one of the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s also the day when there is no sunlight at the South Pole. Conversely, the winter solstice is one of the shortest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and it is the day when there is no sunlight at the North Pole.

The Ancients saw great significance in this day and marked it by their astronomical observations.  The Celtic Day of Cerridwen and her cauldron my have originally been associated with the Summer Solstice.  Cerridwen of Wales was a Dark Moon goddess; her symbols were the cauldron, grain, and the Moon. The white, corpse eating sow, representing the Moon, was one of her animal emblems.  The first day of this month (on the Full Moon) is when the Celts celebrated Midsummer.

The Latin sol (sun) +  sistere (to stand still) gives us the word solstice because the Sun seems to  “stand still” at least in its declination and the the movement of the Sun’s path north or south comes to a brief stop before reversing direction.

In the Northern hemisphere, the period around the June solstice is known as midsummer, and Midsummer’s Day is 24 June, about three days after the solstice itself.