Learn all about the summer solstice and how it is celebrated throughout the world in our seasonal-themed webquest.
Activity 1: Solstice science
Read the article below.
What are the solstices?
In the northern hemisphere, 21 June is the longest day of the year. It is called the summer solstice and marks the beginning of summer. 21 June is the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere – there, it is the winter solstice and marks the beginning of winter. Since humans first began noticing the changes of the seasons and the movement of celestial objects, the solstices have been celebrated in many ways.
Answer the questions. You will find the answers both in the article above and at the weblink below.
- Why do we have seasons?
- What is the summer solstice?
- What is the winter solstice?
- What are the equinoxes?
- What and when is the autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere?
- What and when is the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere?
Activity 2: Summer solstice celebrations
Either working individually or in groups, choose one of the topics below. Visit the link and find the answers to the questions. Then prepare a short presentation about the topic, and share it with your classmates. Use the answers to the questions as guides when preparing the report.
A. Significance of the summer solstice
(Read the section ‘Significance of the summer solstice’.)
- Why was summer a joyous time in prehistoric times?
- What is another name for the first full moon of June? Why?
- Why wasn’t May a popular month for weddings?
- Where does the term ‘honeymoon’ come from?
B. Midsummer celebrations in ancient times
(Read the section ‘Midsummer celebrations in ancient and modern times’ about halfway down the page.)
Complete this chart to help you summarize the ideas in this section. Tip: not all questions here have an answer.
|Society||Name of celebration?||What or who did it celebrate?||How was it celebrated?|
Essenes (a Jewish group)
C. Modern Pagan celebrations
- What does Litha mean?
- According to the Pagans, what happens at Midsummer?
- Besides celebrating growth, what else do the Pagans celebrate in this holiday?
- Where do Pagans celebrate the solstice in England?
D. Celebrations at Stonehenge
- What is Stonehenge?
- How many people celebrated at Stonehenge in 2019?
- Can people walk amongst the stones?
- Why would a visitor not be allowed to see Stonehenge?
- For how long have people been celebrating the summer solstice at Stonehenge?
E. Celebrations in Denmark
- What is the midsummer celebration called?
- When does it take place?
- What’s the connection with bonfires?
- What’s the connection with witches?
F. Celebrations in Germany
- With what do some Germans celebrate the summer solstice?
- Describe customs related to:
- a. lovers;
- b. healing;
- c. mountain fires in Bavaria.
G. Celebrations in California
- What was the theme of the parade in 2019?
- How many spectators attend the event?
- Why did the festival move from the sunken gardens?
- What happens for kids at the Alameda Park Festival?
- What is the annual competition, and why does it happen?
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Webquest: The summer solstice