The Summer Solstice
Illustrated by Jan Davey Ellis
Ages 7 to 10
Millbrook, 2001, 0-7613-1985-9
Because the sun is so important to life on earth it was greatly venerated by the ancient peoples who lived on this planet. Often it was considered to be a god and thus on the day when the sun was at its highest point in the sky, the summer solstice, special rituals and celebrations were often held.
Both in the Americas and in Europe circles of stone marked the passage of the sun in the sky and special spokes in the circles “pointed to the place where the sun rose on the summer solstice.”
In Europe and Great Britain people would roll burning wheels down a hill to symbolize the blazing sun sinking in the sky. There would be great feasting, dancing, and merrymaking and people would get dressed up in outlandish costumes.
Today remnants of these old traditions can still be found in some countries in Europe. In Ireland, Wales and Cornwall people still light bonfires on hill tops on Midsummer Eve and in Sweden tall poles are decorated with leaves, colored streamers and flags and placed in a central place. People then dance around the pole in celebration of the longest day of the year.
In addition to telling young readers about the interesting history of summer solstice lore and traditions the author of this engaging and carefully written book has also included a Hawaiian Summer Solstice story and a section entitled “Midsummer Activities.” These activities include learning how to make a “sidewalk sundial” and a recipe for “sun snacks.”
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