Summer Solstice: midsummer or the beginning of summer?

So, The summer solstice was on June 21, 2022 and Midsummer is today, June 25th.
Which is truly the start of Summer?

20220616_183426_resized_1The June Solstice is often referred to as the first day of summer, and yet celebrations across the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year carry the name Midsummer, which is pretty confusing.

Midsummer and the summer solstice are used interchangeably, but they refer to different things.

The solstice is the beginning of the astronomical summer that has been celebrated since ancient times as the longest day of the year, whereas Midsummer now refers to numerous celebrations that are held over the solstice period, between June 19 and June 24, with both pagan and Christian origins.

With celebrations originating in ancient times as a festival for the summer solstice, this could be where the name comes from. Bonfires were lit up to ward off evil spirits as the sun turned southward.

Meteorologically,

Because the Earth actually takes 365.24 days to travel around the Sun we add an extra day every fourth year, we call this a Leap Year. This means the longest and shortest days vary from one year to the next.

The elliptical shape of the Earth’s orbit causes the lengths of the astronomical seasons to change and this mean it is difficult to compare climatological statistics consistently for a particular season.

This is where the meteorological seasons come in.

Meteorological dates mark the start and end of seasons for statistical purposes. Meteorologists split the year into four quarters, each made up of three months, based on the annual temperature cycle.

The length of the meteorological seasons are more consistent than the astronomical ones, so that we can observe, forecast and compare season statistics reliably from year to year.

  • Autumn: September 1 – November 30
  • Winter: December 1 – February 28
  • Spring: March 1 – May 31
  • Summer: June 1 – August 30

This means that for meteorologists it’s been summer since the beginning of June…

Honestly – the Joy of Summer was probably dictated by when your school let out!


2 Comments on “Summer Solstice: midsummer or the beginning of summer?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Way back in the last millennium, I had a number of Latvian friends, many of whom were just old enough to have been born in Latvia at the end of the the war and who’d come to the United States with their families as children. Midsommer, or “Jani,” is a major national holiday there, and as a “friend of the family,” if you will, I was invited to several solstice celebrations held at summer houses built around a lake in New Hampshire. Wonderful hospitality, a groaning board of food (and a veritable Baltic inlet of very good vodka) set out on the lawns of each house, music, dancing and good fellowship well into the night in a huge barn owned by a Latvian church. And a huge Walpurgian bonfire as coda. Smiles of a summer night fondly remembered!

    Liked by 1 person


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