Earth, the mysterious planet that harbors life and what we call home, relentlessly revolves around the sun. And during this journey, depending upon which pole is tilted towards the sun we have summer or winter in the northern or southern hemispehere. The two distinct times when the earth is positioned such that either the north or the south pole is most inclined towards the sun marks the solstices. The word solstice comes form the latin word solsitium which roughly translates to sun standing still.
The observance of summer solstice as a special day dates back centuries, to a time before any of the known religions existed and probably the time we still don’t know much about. The proof of this is numerous monuments that have been built over time to align with the summer solstice. From the peculiar arrangement of rocks at stonehenge, to the pyramids at Chichen Itza, to the ones in Giza and many more such marvelous structures have been erected over time to somehow align with the position of the sun during a solstice. This was a time when there were no satellites to pan the earth from above to position objects accordingly. It was all done by people dedicating their lives to star gazing and recording the movements of the constellations. And yet, they were able to achieve feats like arranging extremely heavy rocks in a formation that is quite difficult even by today’s technological standards. This makes me think that the science at the time was extremely advanced in a sense that we don’t completely understand. Did we really progress from that point in the understanding of science or did we regress or are we just going in a circle till we get to that point again and start over? The more we dig into the past, the more we realize that our ancestors were not as ignorant about the workings of the universe as we may have believed and we still have a lot to learn.
As the time passed, various cultures originated and declined, knowledge was gained and forgotten and somewhere somehow things got twisted and a fantastical element came about in the observance of solstices. While it is not clear why the monuments that are built to align with the solstice were built that way or what these cultures did on days like this but with time they have become places for astronomical observations and mystical meetings alike. Almost every part of the world has structures built to create an effect as the earth and other celestial objects move in the sky, with a great emphasis on the solstices. Many cultures around the globe have special days dedicated to this event, whether it is St. John’s day or midsummer ‘s eve or kupala night or anything else as such. Whether you are fascinated by history of this day for the reasons spanning religion, paganism, mysticism or science, it surely packed brings excitement and realization that there is still a lot unknown about the history of humans on earth. But until we completely understand how our ancestors had the knowledge of the universe and science that we still don’t and why has this day been observed over the years by so many cultures, we can continue to follow the tradition and toast to a wonderful summer that follows.