Are you all set for summer?

Are you all set for summer? - Keep Things Personal

As we fast approach the longest day of the year, how will you be celebrating the Summer Solstice?

The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin words for sun (sol) and to stand (sistere) and it’s that special time of year when the position of the rising or setting sun stands still in its movement along the horizon. Usually occurring on 21 June, Summer Solstice can actually happen for a few days either side of this date as the sun’s position can remain in the same place. During the Summer Solstice, the earth’s axis is tilted at its closest point from the sun. This means that in the northern hemisphere, the sun is at its highest point in the sky. It’s also the longest day of the year - and the shortest night.

In Neolithic times, sunlight would have been crucial to the people giving warmth to them and their animals and for helping their crops to grow.  These prehistoric people would have found it easy to observe the rising and setting positions of the sun each day, and to mark these orientations from any given spot.

According to the English Heritage experts, one of the most popular attractions for the Summer Solstice is Stonehenge; famed for its alignment on sunrise on the longest day of the year, it is a spiritual place visited by thousands of tourists every year during mid-summer. The stones at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, that were set up in about 2500 BC, and were carefully designed to align with the movements of the sun. Standing in the centre of the monument at Summer Solstice, the sun rises just to the left of a large standing stone outside the stone circle, known as the Heel Stone, seen through a gap in the outer sarsen circle. Historic excavations show that the Heel Stone may have had a partner and so the sun would have risen framed between the two stones. The first section of the Stonehenge Avenue is also aligned on this same axis. There is a second alignment to the south-west, in the direction of the Winter Solstice.

It is likely that people gathered at Stonehenge at both midsummer and midwinter solstices to conduct rituals and ceremonies relating to the changing seasons, the sun and the sky. It must have been important to align their monument with the movements of the sun but we may never know the exact reasons why. The longest day of the year would have perhaps been a time of celebration, with warm nights and long daylight making it the perfect time to gather together.

So, how will you be spending your Summer Solstice? If you are making a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to enjoy the sunrise and/or sunset or simply preferring to spend time at home in the garden with family and friends, Keep Things Personal have some wonderful picnic hampers and garden gifts that would make any Summer Solstice special. Take a look at our full range of picnic delights here: and our garden gifts here: 

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