International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice

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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

International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice is observed globally to honor and appreciate the vital role that the solstices play in our lives. It is a time to celebrate the power of the sun, its significance in various cultures, and the balance created by these unique moments in time. The day seeks to create awareness about the science, art, and spirituality surrounding solstices, while emphasizing sustainability and social harmony.

Though the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice lacks a specific historical origin, its relevance remains strong in South Africa. South Africa, being a land rich with cultural diversity and heritage, uses this occasion to celebrate the beauty of nature and its influence on human life. Recognizing the solstices is essential for the region's agricultural sectors, as these events serve as critical markers for planting and harvesting. Thus, the observance of the solstices is an opportunity for South Africans to understand their environment better and to promote sustainable practices.

During the International Day of the Celebration of the Solstice in South Africa, various local customs and activities pertinent to the solstice are practiced. These traditions may range from community gatherings to spiritual rituals. Some people may choose to honor the day through scientific events, while others may prefer to engage in artistic projects. Generally, the events and activities are tailored according to the specific solstice being celebrated. As the Southern Hemisphere experiences the opposite solstice to the Northern Hemisphere, South Africans observe the winter solstice in June and the summer solstice in December.

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.
  • There are around 100,000 stone ruins scattered across South Africa, and some researchers believe that these stone structures contain features that align with the solstices and other celestial events.
  • In South Africa, during the summer solstice, the sun reaches its highest point in the sky at noon, appearing almost directly overhead. On the winter solstice, the sun appears lower in the sky at noon.

Top things to do in South Africa 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.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about the history of astronomy in South Africa. Here are our recommendations:
    1. Cosmic Africa - This documentary follows South African astrophysicist Dr. Thebe Medupe as he explores ancient African knowledge of the stars and the cosmos.
    2. African Starlore - This short documentary by Dr. Daniel Annerose delves into traditional knowledge of the stars and elements of African oral tradition related to the sky.
  • Celebrate the summer solstice with a popular South African dish. Here are some suggestions:
    1. Braai- A traditional South African barbecue, with a variety of marinated meats like boerewors (South African sausage), lamb chops, chicken, and steak, grilled over an open flame.
    2. Bobotie- A traditional Cape Malay dish made of spiced minced meat, chutney, and savory custard, perfect for a summertime lunch.
    3. Sosaties- South African kebabs made of marinated and skewered meat, usually lamb or chicken, with vegetables and fruits like apricots or peaches.

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