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24th June, 2024 Geography


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.britannica.com/science/summer-solstice-astronomy

Context: The summer solstice, occurring around June 21st each year in the Northern Hemisphere, is a significant astronomical event marking the longest day and shortest night of the year.

What is the Summer Solstice?

  • The summer solstice happens when the Earth's axial tilt is most inclined towards the Sun, directly above the Tropic of Cancer (at approximately 23.5 degrees north latitude).
  • It marks the point when the Northern Hemisphere receives the most sunlight during the year. In contrast, the Southern Hemisphere experiences its winter solstice, with the shortest day and longest night.

Celebrations Around the World

  • Stonehenge, England: The most famous celebration occurs at Stonehenge, where thousands gather to watch the sunrise align perfectly with the stones. This ancient site has been associated with solstice celebrations for thousands of years, highlighting its astronomical significance.
  • Sweden and Norway: In Scandinavian countries like Sweden and Norway, the solstice is celebrated as "Midsummer" (Midsommar). People gather for outdoor festivals, feasts, and traditional dances around Maypoles adorned with flowers.
  • Baltic States: Countries like Latvia and Lithuania also celebrate Midsummer (known as "Jāņi" and "Joninės", respectively). Bonfires are lit, and traditional songs and dances are performed to celebrate the longest day of the year.
  • Spain: In Spain, particularly in Catalonia, the festival of Sant Joan is celebrated with fireworks, bonfires on the beach, and all-night parties to welcome the summer.
  • Native American Traditions: Various Native American tribes in North America hold ceremonies and rituals during the solstice, celebrating the abundance of nature and spiritual renewal.
  • China: In China, the summer solstice is associated with the Earth element in traditional Chinese medicine. Special foods like seasonal fruits and vegetables are consumed to balance the body’s energy during this time.
  • Peru: In Peru, particularly at the Temple of the Sun (Inti Raymi), celebrations include rituals to honour the sun god Inti, with traditional music, dance, and processions.

International Yoga Day: Recognized by the United Nations, June 21st is celebrated globally with yoga events emphasising unity, health, and well-being.

Seasons on Earth are primarily caused by its axial tilt and its orbit around the Sun

Axial Tilt

  • Earth's Tilt: Earth's axis is tilted relative to its orbit around the Sun by approximately 23.5 degrees. This tilt is responsible for the variation in the Sun's angle above the horizon throughout the year.
  • Impact of Tilt: As Earth orbits the Sun, different parts of the planet receive varying amounts of sunlight at different times of the year. When a hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun, it experiences summer because sunlight is more concentrated and days are longer. Conversely, when tilted away, that hemisphere experiences winter because sunlight is less concentrated and days are shorter.

Seasons Defined

  • Summer Solstice: Occurs when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted most directly towards the Sun (around June 20 or 21). It marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Conversely, in the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the shortest day and the beginning of winter.
  • Winter Solstice: Occurs when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted most directly away from the Sun (around December 21 or 22). It marks the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, it marks the longest day and the beginning of summer.
  • Equinoxes: Occur when neither hemisphere is tilted towards or away from the Sun (around March 20 or 21 and September 22 or 23). On these dates, day and night are approximately equal in length, marking the beginning of spring (March equinox) or autumn (September equinox).


  • The summer solstice is not just a scientific event but a cultural and spiritual milestone celebrated worldwide. It connects people to their heritage, traditions, and the natural rhythms of the Earth. Whether through ancient rituals or modern festivals, the solstice continues to hold deep meaning as a time of renewal, abundance, and connection to the sun.


Indian Express



Q. Consider the following statements in the context of the summer solstice:

1. It occurs annually.

2. It marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

3. It has cultural significance in various regions.

4. Daylight hours are longest in one hemisphere.

How many of the above statements are correct?

A) Only one

B) Only two

C) Only three

D) All four

Answer: C