Today in History: Summer Solstice

| June 21, 2019

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“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (Ch. 4, p. 38)

Also known as midsummer, Summer Solstice occurs this year on June 21st, the time when one of the Earth’s poles tilts at its maximum toward the sun. This movement causes the longest period of daylight, as the sun reaches its highest position in the sky, and the day officially marks the beginning of summer — which we embrace until Monday, September 23rd, 2019.

A number of Junes ago, I traveled by train through Norway, intent on seeing the midnight sun at the northernmost point I could go on my rail pass. About a fifteen hour journey from Bergen landed me in Trondheim, the country’s third largest city where old colorful storehouses picturesquely flank the sides of the River Nidela. The length of the day seemed very long and proved an experience that stretched over a few days, conducive to students listening to pop in Torvet, the central square; drinking coffee at the pavement cafes; or watching plays at the oldest theater, built in 1816 and still in use in Scandinavian. It was not a time to sleep, but to celebrate; the sun shone at the stroke of twelve and only retracted its rays for the shortest period in the small hours of the morning, like a lazy cat to its claws on a soft sleepy sofa in the dawn.

Like Macomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, or northern Norway in the new millennium, we can look to a magical forest outside Athens in antiquity for the rituals of the summer solstice: Shakespeare’s comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, indulges fantasy and imagination where fairies and humans join the path of love and marriage. Let’s herald in the joy of the longest day of the year, despite all the rainy weather in New York City! It’s natural to feel a lightness in your step and goodness in your spirit, as we remember even simple things, like the local lemonade stand, city sprinkler, or choicest book for summer reading!

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.

Tips:  190621_SpecialSlide

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