International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice

Quick Facts - NZ

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2024 Date21 June 2024
2025 Date21 June 2025

International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice

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International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice

The International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice is a global observance that aims to promote awareness and understanding of the various cultural, historical, and religious values associated with the solstice. This special day emphasizes the significance of seasonal and astronomical changes in the lives of people across the globe. By honoring the solstice, this day enables diverse communities to connect with each other and appreciate our shared human experience of the natural world.

Whilst the exact origins of the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice are unclear, solstices have been observed throughout history within many different cultures. New Zealanders should take interest in this observance as the solstice represents the changing seasons, which play a vital role in the country's climate, agriculture, and indigenous traditions. New Zealand is home to a diverse range of cultures that have their unique perspectives on the solstice, making the celebration an enriching experience.

In New Zealand, customs and activities during the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice often include gatherings at significant cultural and historical sites. Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, traditionally mark the solstice with religious rituals and feasting. For those who wish to partake in these festivities, the Māori cultural center in Rotorua holds solstice events. The southern hemisphere summer solstice typically occurs on December 21st or 22nd while the winter solstice on June 20th or 21st, offering New Zealanders the opportunity to observe and celebrate the solstice at these times of the year.

Facts about this day

  • The word solstice comes from the Latin sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to stand still.
  • The summer solstice is the day with the longest period of sunlight.
  • Inside the Arctic Circle (north of 66.5 degrees north) and the Antarctic Circle (south of 66.5 degrees south), there is a period in winter when the sun does not rise, and a period in summer when the sun does not set. These are known as Polar Night and Midnight Sun respectively.
  • During the Summer Solstice, New Zealand's southernmost regions experience 16-17 hours of daylight, while the northern regions receive 14.5-15 hours of daylight.
  • The Maori people of New Zealand have been observing the solstices for thousands of years. They used the celestial bodies to develop their calendar, known as the “maramataka.” This calendar helped them track seasonal changes and plan various activities, such as planting and harvesting crops or fishing.

Top things to do in NZ for this observance

  • Enjoy the summer season by planning a trip involving the outdoors. You could go hiking, fishing, or swimming.
  • Visit Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England to witness the summer solstice like never before. There are live streams available online if traveling isn't an option.
  • Plan a camping trip to one of New Zealand's beautiful national parks or campgrounds to take full advantage of the summer solstice's extra daylight hours.
  • Visit the Stonehenge Aotearoa observatory located in the Wairarapa region where you can learn about the astronomy and traditions practiced by both Māori and the European settlers.

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