Summer and Fathers

down the shore
Down the Shore

There are three events you might be marking or celebrating this weekend.

The summer solstice, which marks the official start of the season in the Northern Hemisphere is June 20. (The Southern Hemisphere has to wait for December for summer.) The summer solstice is when the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky and is the day with the longest period of daylight. At the Arctic circle there is continuous daylight around the summer solstice.

According to Wikipedia, the summer solstice is also known as estival solstice – a term I have never heard used – and as Midsummer.

Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice. Those celebrations take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world.

Father’s Day is this Sunday and celebrates fathers and fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. I only learned this year that the tradition is said to be started from a memorial service held for a large group of men who died in a mining accident in Monongah, West Virginia in 1907. That seems to be quite an odd way for this holiday to have started. It was first proposed as a national day in 1909 and is celebrated in the United States annually on the third Sunday in June.

I will celebrate the solstice at the beach, which has always meant summer for me. Here in New Jersey, we don’t go to the beach – we go “down the shore.”

Midsummer” always seemed to me to be an odd name for a time when summer is just beginning. You can celebrate Midsummer’s Day or Midsummer’s Eve. Shakespeare gave the night a big boost.

I’ll spend Father’s Day with both of my sons, and my younger son is a new father, so the day will be more special than in some years. My family, past and present, has spent many summers down the shore, but not always for the solstice or Father’s Day.  All holidays are really personal celebrations in some way.

Down the shore with my father and sister on a father’s Day many years ago.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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