Summer Solstice 2016: What you need to know

Welcome to the first day of summer in 2016, also known as the Summer Solstice. 
Today, on the longest day of the year, we’ll get a mighty 15 hours, 26 minutes and 7 seconds of daylight in beautiful Mississauga

Summer officially kicks off at 6:34 pm. Why such a specific time? Well, it depends on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point of the equator and this year, 6:34 pm is when that hits.

There’ll be a rare full moon that coincides with this year’s summer solstice, which is the first time that’s happened in nearly 70 years. 

How do people around the world celebrate Summer Solstice?

  • In Sweden, the eating of the first strawberries of the season is their celebratory ritual
image courtesy of earthsky.org

image courtesy of earthsky.org

  • In the United Kingdom, thousands of folks gather around Stonehenge to witness the sunrise beaming through rock pillars every summer solstice
  • In Austria, mountain-top bonfires have been ritualistic since medieval times
Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

  • A short flight (or a 10 hour drive) away in New York City,  “Manhattenhenge” occurs, where the setting sun perfectly aligns with the 42nd Street grid for three weeks before and after Solstice
  • In ancient Egypt, the Summer Solstice was seen as the start of a new year as it coincided with the Sirius star (which they believed was responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile that was responsible for agricultural benefits)
  • In Alaska, they celebrate with a midnight baseball game. Hey, may as well make the most of the extra daylight, right? The tradition started in 1906 and the game starts around 10:30 pm and runs in to the wee hours of the morning
  • The Arctic Circle has 24 Hours of Daylight during the summer

But Modern Mississauga, isn’t the first day of summer usually June 21?

Usually, yes. All the time, no. The smart folks over at www.almanac.com provide a concise reasoning here:

This occurs in part because of the difference between the Gregorian calendar system, which normally has 365 days, and the tropical year (how long it takes Earth to orbit the Sun once), which has about 365.242199 days. To compensate for the missing fraction of days, the Gregorian calendar adds a leap day about every 4 years, which makes the date for summer jump backward. However, the date also changes because of other influences, such as the gravitational pull from the Moon and planets and the slight wobble in Earth’s rotation.
image courtesy of Sanjin Avdicevic

image courtesy of Sanjin Avdicevic

How can we celebrate here in Mississauga?

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the first day of summer here in Mississauga, whether it be visiting one of our beautiful parks, enjoying time in Streetsville or Celebration Square, going for a walk/run/cycle along our network of paths, sitting on your patio or visiting one of our many restaurant patios, or heading south to beautiful Port Credit.

So get out there and enjoy all our city has to offer not just today but for as many days as possible!