Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice Give Or Take A Day

Summer's official, astronomical start is at 2:06 p.m. today.

It's tough for pagans when Solstice falls on a work day like today.

Although the solstice is technically today, the druid ritual will be Saturday afternoon because druids have jobs, too.

Unless of course they are unionized pagans and have a clause in the collective agreement saying that employees are entitled to holy days off of their choice.

In Canada Wiccan and pagan holy days such as solstice are considered official religious holidays by the Ontario Supreme Court.

Which is why solstice, winter or summer, falls between the 21 and 23, to give time for the weekend to catch up.

Thousands of modern-day druids, pagans and partygoers converged on Stonehenge late Wednesday as people across the Northern Hemisphere prepared to welcome the summer solstice -- the longest day of the year.

Solstice celebrations were a highlight of the pre-Christian calendar. People in many countries still celebrate with bonfires, maypole dances, and courtship rituals.

Solstice celebrations also take place in other countries, although most are deferred until the last weekend in June. Swedes will gather to sip spiced schnapps, Danes will light bonfires, and Balts and Finns will flock to the countryside to dance, sing and make merry under the midnight sun.

The largest crowd in recent years gathered at Stone Henge overnight to celebrate the Summer Solstice this morning as a further 1,000 congregated at Avebury.

Visitor numbers at the 5,000-year-old English Heritage Site on the Salisbury Plain totalled 24,094, up from 18,700 last year, to watch the longest day of the year dawn.

A spokesman said numbers swelled above a predicted 20,000 because extra people, on their way to Glastonbury music festival, stopped off to join the party.

Police were pleased to see that those attending had also heeded their warning to use public transport to get to the area as vehicle numbers at the gathering were also down on last year's total, dropping from 4,536 to 3,577.

As the sun rose at 4.58am a cheer went up from those gathered overnight at the stone circle on Salisbury Plain.

Revellers clad in antlers, black cloaks and oak leaves gathered at the Heel stone - a twisted, pockmarked pillar at the edge of the prehistoric monument - to welcome the rising sun.

BBC online pictures of summer solstice sunrise.

Summer solstice
Are you in touch with your inner Druid?


Damn Accurate

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Here Comes The Sun

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