Every year the summer solstice became a reason to visit the archaeological site of Stonehenge, in the United Kingdom, due to the position of its axis, in line with the sun during the solstice, when a beam of light passes through the stone portal and lands on the altar in the center of the site. This year the Covid prevents the holding of traditional ceremonies and also theEnglish Heritage, the body that manages the Stonehenge archaeological site, had to cancel the participatory celebration. But for those who do not want to miss the appointment anyway, you can watch the show on Facebook and celebrate the beginning of summer watching the sunrise and sunset of Stonehenge. The appointment is tonight at 21:26, until to 04:52 on Sunday 21.
The summer solstice in history
For numerous civilization of the past the summer solstice represented a magical moment, full of spiritual meanings. The abundant sunshine was interpreted as a heavenly gift and a benevolent sign, to be venerated and celebrated. It is no coincidence that ancient Greeks and the pre-Columbian populations they celebrated this anniversary with rituals related to solar worship, which reflected the belief that a new phase of life was about to leave. THE Romans they dedicated both solstices to Janus, one of the most important deities of their pantheon, considered the guardian of the beginnings and of any form of passage (for example from one natural cycle to another). It is instead known that i Celtthe they used to light a bonfire on the first day of summer, believing that this gesture transmitted strength to the Sun. Ancient China finally, the summer solstice was an opportunity to pay homage to Yang, the positive energy that according to tradition reaches its peak during the summer season.
The mystery of Stonehenge
When it comes to the solstice it is impossible not to immediately think of Stonehenge, the enigmatic neolithic complex found in the Wiltshire, in the UK. Despite the many questions that still surround the structure, it is a shared hypothesis that the circle of large rocks, known as megaliths, once functioned as astronomical observatory. To prove it there would be the fact that thereStonehenge axis is in line with the position of the Sun. during the summer solstice, when a beam of light passes through the stone portal and lands on the altar in the center of the site. In modern times the charm and mystery of Stonehenge have contributed to making it a renowned one pilgrimage destination for the followers of Celtism and other neo-pagan religions, which on the occasion of the solstices recall primitive rituals, in a mix of folklore, extravagance and magic.
Summer solstice and today’s traditions
Over the centuries, Christianity has absorbed many rites related to the solstice, enriching them with new meanings. Famous is for example the feast of San Giovanni (June 24), a religious solemnity widespread especially in Italy is Spain, which provides for the ignition of large bonfires nocturnal, in the wake of the ancient solstice cults in honor of fire and light.
Always in San Giovanni, in Latvia the national holiday known as Jani, characterized by open fires, dances and baths in the lakes. In Finland, the solstice (called Juhannus) is considered a propitious moment to find a soul mate, so much so that various couples choose this date for to get married, with annexed commemorative rites, including bonfires and midnight saunas.
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