Each summer the days grow longer, with warmer lighter evenings a treat for Brits. However, the days don’t grow exponentially longer, with the longest day of the year signalling a time when daylight hours will begin to slowly grow shorter again. This day is often celebrated at the ancient Stonehenge, with revellers gathering to see in the longest day of the year.
This is also known as the summer solstice, and by many is regarded as the first official day of summer.
According to the meteorological calendar, June 1 was the first official day of summer, however, the astronomical calendar says differently.
The Almanac explains the June solstice (aka summer solstice) happens “when the Sun travels along its northernmost path in the sky.”
In the Northern Hemisphere this marks the longest day of the year and the start of summer, however, in the Southern Hemisphere this day is the astronomical start of winter.
Midsummer’s Eve is believed to be a time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.
And so this would be a time when fairies were thought to be at their most powerful.
Since the 13th century, Midsummer was celebrated on Midsummer Eve with bonfires, feasting, and dancing.
Today bonfires are still lit on some high hills in Cornwall.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, English Heritage has issued advice for those wanting to attend Stonehenge for the solstice this year.
On their website they advise: “This year, there will be plenty of additional safety measures in place and we do ask that anyone who is thinking of coming, to check here for details of these and follow Government advice to stay at home if you have any of the three main symptoms (high temperature, new or continuous cough, loss or change to sense of smell or taste), or if you have been asked to isolate as part of a household or identified as a close contact by NHS Test and Trace.
“We strongly recommend that people planning to attend Solstice take a Lateral Flow Test before setting off, and only attend if the result is negative.”
“Anyone arriving on 20 June can expect to see socially distanced queuing, hand sanitiser stations, and reminders to keep your distance and to stay within groups of fewer than 30.”