When is the longest day of the year and how is summer solstice 2019 being celebrated at Stonehenge?

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THOUSANDS of people travel to Stonehenge every year to celebrate the summer solstice.

But do you know why the Wiltshire monument attracts so many people on the longest day of the year? The reason might surprise you.

The summer solstice is considered to be the longest day of the year because it’s when we get the most daylight
Getty Images

When is the summer solstice?

The midsummer date is set based on the planet’s rotational axis.

It’s decided based on the sun’s tilt towards the sun, which hits its maximum at 23° 26′ and falls between June 20 and June 22 in the northern hemisphere.

This year, the summer solstice will take place on Friday June 21.

What is the summer solstice?

The “longest” day of the year marks the middle of summer.

This is because the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most aligned with the sun, providing us with the most daylight of the year.

When it ends, the nights will begin to close in as our planet rotates away from the sun.
The date where Earth is the furthest from the star is marked by the winter solstice.

Revellers face the sun as they watch it rise up around the Wiltshire monument
AP

What has the summer solstice got to do with Stonehenge?

The day is celebrated by pagans and druids, with rituals of rebirth performed throughout history on the day.

One of the biggest celebrations in the UK occurs at Stonehenge with crowds gathering to watch the sunrise.

The tradition sees revellers waiting by the Wiltshire monument on midsummer, facing towards the north-easterly direction.

Crowds of devotees, often dressed for the occasion, regularly gather to watch the moment the sun rises above the Heel Stone.

It’s just one of the many pagan festivals, which include midwinter and imbolc – the day that traditionally marks the start of spring.


How else is the summer solstice celebrated?

Midsummer festivities are held across the world in many different cultures.

In many cases, the rituals are linked with themes of religion or fertility.

Wianki celebrations in Poland are similar to those held in Britain, as the day is largely considered a pagan religious event.

There are different traditions across Europe, with Estonia using the day to mark a shift in agricultural patterns.

In Russia and Ukraine, it’s tradition for revellers to jump over bonfires to test their courage and religious faith.

In India it is observed with mass yoga sessions.

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