The summer solstice, the day when the Northern Hemisphere receives more daylight than any other day of the year, marks the start of astronomical summer and the tipping point at which days start to become shorter and nights longer. The word “solstice” comes from the Latin word “solstitium” “sol” (sun) and “stitium” (still or stopped).
This year, the summer solstice will occur on Friday, June 21.
Ancient folks noticed that as summer progressed, the sun stopped moving northward in the sky, then begin tracking southward again as summer turned to autumn. Neolithic humans may initially have started to observe the summer solstice as a marker to figure out when to plant and harvest crops.
In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice corresponded with the rise of the Nile River. According to ancient Greek calendars, the summer solstice marked the start of the New Year. In the days leading up to the summer solstice, the ancient Romans celebrated Vestalia, a religious festival in honor of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. During Vestalia, married women could enter the temple of Vesta and leave offerings to the goddess in exchange for blessings for their families. In ancient China, festivities celebrated Earth, femininity, and the “yin” force.
Before Christianity, ancient Northern and Central European pagans, including Germanic, Celtic and Slavic groups, welcomed the summer solstice, Midsummer, with bonfires. It was thought that bonfires would boost the sun’s energy for the rest of the growing season and guarantee a good harvest for the fall. Bonfires also were associated with magic, was thought to be strongest during the summer solstice. It was believed that bonfires could help banish demons and evil spirits and lead maidens to their future husbands.
Native American tribes took part in solstice rituals, some of which are still practiced today. The Sioux, for instance, performed a ceremonial sun dance around a tree while wearing symbolic colors.
Many cultures still celebrate the summer solstice today; neopagans, wicans and new agers around the world hold summer solstice celebrations, and also New York City hosts a plethora of events to celebrate the longest day of the year.
Where to Celebrate the Summer Solstice in Brooklyn
Summer Solstice Sunrise at Elsewhere
Rise with the sun in celebration of the summer solstice on Friday, June 21 at Elsewhere’s rooftop in Bushwick.
Elsewhere will be breaking records for their earliest party to date, beginning at 5:00am with a sunrise sound bath meditation, followed by a 5:30am yoga session. Come dressed in all colors of the sun, yellows, oranges, reds and pinks. The Sunrise Solstice celebration will also feature Elsewhere’s resident DJ FDVM on the decks, Elliott LaRue on the mic, plus a host of local delicious treats, amazing performances, crafts and arts. For tickets, go here.
When: Friday, June 21, 5:00am – 8:30am | Tickets are $15 – $40
Where: Elsewhere, 599 Johnson Ave #1, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Keisha St. Joan in Concert at FiveMyles
Come listen to Keisha St. Joan and her band, for a spiritual journey through jazz, on the wide FiveMyles sidewalk – refreshments will be served, and the event is rain or shine!
When: Friday, June 21, 5:00pm – 9:00pm | Free
Where: FiveMyles Gallery, 558 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Summer SOULstice Night-time Farmers Market at The Black Lady Theatre
Join The Black Lady Theatre for its annual Summer SOULstice celebration. This year, the theatre is hosting a night-time farmers market and bazaar. The music flows all night long with LIVE performances courtesy of Make Music NY while you shop local goods and support black businesses. To learn more about the lineup, go here.
When: Friday, June 21, 6:00pm – 11:00pm | Free, but RSVPs are required
Where: The Black Lady Theatre, 750 Nostrand Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11216
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