June 24, 2016 11:10 am
Summer is here! At least according to the calendar, because in Luxembourg summer feels more like early spring. Nevertheless, the summer solstice was this week, which means that indeed the summer is here.
In order to celebrate the arrival of summer, and maybe convince the thermometers to show a higher temperature, we picked solstice as the IATE term of this week.
A solstice is an astronomical event, and as you might have guessed, it relates to the Sun. In fact, solstice is derived from the Latin words “sol” meaning “sun” and “sistere” which means “to stand still”.
A solstice occurs twice each year, in June and in December, as the sun reaches the highest or the lowest point on the sky in relation to the Earth.
The term “solstice” is also used to define the day in which this astronomical event occurs. Therefore, the summer solstice is the longest day of the year and the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. This year on the day of the summer solstice we had 17 hours of light. Alternative terms such as June solstice or December solstice are also used.
This year’s summer solstice is special because, for the first time in 70 years, it occurred on the same day as a full moon. This rare occurance will not be seen for another 70 years.
Besides being recognised as the beginning of summer, the solstice is also associated, all over Europe, with Midsummer holidays, traditions and celebrations of pre-Christian origin. Even in the Southern Hemisphere, in Brazil, Argentina and Australia, the Midsummer was imported from Europe, but there it is called “Midwinter”.
The celebration of Midsummer’s Eve also known as St. John’s Eve among Christians was, from ancient times, celebrated as a festival of the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits, which were believed to roam freely when the sun sets. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other powerful beings.
When we talk about solstice, we must talk about equinox as well. An equinox is when the day and the night have an equal number of hours. It occurs also twice a year, usually in March and December. But I will stop with the explanations for now, because perhaps at some point equinox will be the IATE term of the week and you will get a detailed article about it then.
Written by Raluca Caranfil
Communication Trainee at TermCoord
Journalist & Student at the University of Luxembourg
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