First Day of Summer 2014: The Summer Solstice

Credit: Michelle Novak
PrintPrintEmailEmail
Your rating: None Average: 3.7 of 5 (353 votes)

When is the first day of summer 2014? Get information on the 2014 summer solstice facts—plus, fun ways to enjoy summer!

See when each season starts for 2014.

When is the Summer Solstice?

The solstice heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. In 2014, the solstice falls on June 21 at 6:51 A.M. EDT.

The timing of the solstice depends on when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator. 

The word solstice is from the Latin solstitium, from sol (sun) and stitium (to stop), reflecting the fact that the Sun appears to stop at this time (and again at the winter solstice).

In temperate regions, we notice that the Sun is higher in the sky throughout the day, and its rays strike Earth at a more direct angle, causing the efficient warming we call summer. 

This summer solstice is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year.

Click for YOUR local Sun rise and set times—and how the day length changes!

10 Ways to Celebrate Summer

How will you celebrate the solstice and all that extra daylight? Here are 10 ideas from the editors—plus, some products from our Almanac.com General Store!

  1. Light a bonfire: The solstice day was traditionally celebrated by dancing around the bonfires. Build the perfect fire every time with Frame-a-Fire.
  2. Go fishin': We love to get out on the water. Consult our free Best Days for Fishing chartplus, tackle-box and bait tips.Bird feeder & thermometer in one!
  3. Plant a seed or a tree: Traditionally, to the farmer, the solstice is the midpoint of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvesting, and an occasion for celebration. 
  4. Cook outside: There's nothing as tasty as grilled food. Have a big cook-out on the solstice. 
  5. Camp: Plan a camp-out to enjoy the great outdoors whether it's a tent in the backyard or a cabin in the woods! Don't forget the best natural insect repellent on Earth to enjoy the outdoors in peace.
  6. Listen to songbirds: We love our feathered friends. Attact birds to your garden with our beautiful bird feeders.
  7. Get pampered. Midsummer Day, near the solstice, was said to make old people look younger. It was also thought that walking barefoot in the dew would keep one's skin from getting chapped. Summer certainly does cure the winter dries. You can also check out popular gardener's lotions and fisherman's soaps to soften calloused working hands.
  8. Let the light in! With all this extra daylight, hang one of our gorgeous suncatchers for your window or porch. Here is the Almanac suncatcher, shot in our town of Dublin, NH, against the backdrop of Dublin Lake.
  9. Read a book. Temperatures rise and lazy days ensue. Relax on the beach or the porch and read up on gardening tips, natural health, and more. See our great books and guides.
  10. Watch the night sky! In ancient Egypt, the new year was celebrated when the star Sirius rose around the time of sunrise. This roughly coincided with the summer solstice and the annual flooding of the Nile River. Click for our free monthly Sky Map and explore the night sky fom your own backyard!

Summer Dreaming?

Take a moment to dream! Click to see stunning pictures celebrating summer!

Did You Know?

Question: Why isn’t the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, also the hottest day of the year?

Answer: Earth’s atmosphere, land, and oceans absorb part of the incoming energy from the Sun and store it, releasing it back as heat at various rates. Water is slower to heat (or cool) than air or land. At the summer solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives the most energy (highest intensity) from the Sun due to the angle of sunlight and day length. However, the land and oceans are still relatively cool, due to spring’s temperatures, so the maximum heating effect on air temperature is not felt just yet. Eventually, the land and, especially, oceans will release stored heat from the summer solstice back into the atmosphere. This usually results in the year’s hottest temperatures appearing in late July, August, or later, depending on latitude and other factors. This effect is called seasonal temperature lag.

Summer Folklore and Verse

Deep snow in winter, tall grain in summer.–Estonian proverb

When the summer birds take their flight, goes the summer with them.

If it rains on Midsummer's Eve, the filbert crops will be spoiled.–Unknown

One swallow never made a summer.

Easterly winds from May 19 to the 21 indicate a dry summer.

If there are many falling stars during a clear summer evening, expect thunder. If there are none, expect fine weather.

When does fall start? Click here to see the first date of each season.

What does summer mean to you? Share your comment below!

Related Articles

More Articles:

Comments

"When Razorium lizards all

By Unknown

"When Razorium lizards all come together, the first day of summer will be shredded into happiness." -Proverb

Summer begins in May ! Your

By Elizabeth Barthlomew

Summer begins in May !
Your Summer might officially begin on June 21 but
Here in the Deep South summer begins around
May 1. We start seeing temperatures in the upper
80's. Now it's June and temps are already in
the mid 90s with high humidity and killer heat indexes
in the triple digits. It's not a fun time.

The June 21 Summer Solstice

By Natural Elements

The June 21 Summer Solstice has nothing to do with how hot it is in the deep south or how chilly it still may be in the far north....lol. It's the 1 day out of the year with the longest daylight!

Is there a name for when the

By Mr Scarlett

Is there a name for when the 1st day of summer (summer solstice) ends and the 2nd day of summer begins?

Yes. It's called midnight.

By HDog

Yes. It's called midnight.

If the Summer Solstice is the

By Laurie Silverman

If the Summer Solstice is the first day of Summer, how come it's called Midsummer's Day? It can't be both the beginning and the middle of Summer.
Summer is the season that follows Spring and is followed by Fall (or Autumn). By age-old convention, in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer months are June, July and August. The Summer Solstice has nothing to do with it.

Laurie, I would recommend

By W.T. Jeffrey

Laurie, I would recommend checking out the "Wheel of the Year" which reflects a more accurate and ancient division of time and seasons. Pagans have celebrated these dates for centuries. The solstices and equinoxes are always at mid-points in the seasons. The popular calendar uses the four celestial events as a matter of convenience to mark four seasons. The "Wheel" divides the year more accurately for those who farm, and offers twice the reasons to celebrate.

Laurie, these are facets of

By John Cutrone

Laurie, these are facets of traditional reckoning of time. Light is steadily increasing up until the summer solstice, and as soon as the solstice has passed, daylight begins to decrease. So while it is the first day of summer by the almanac, by traditional reckoning of time the solstice is more naturally a midpoint: Midsummer.

The same happens at the winter solstice, when we sing "In the Bleak Midwinter." The winter solstice is the longest night of the year.

It helps, I think, to look at the natural year like a clock: the summer solstice is kind of like noon, or midday. The winter solstice is kind of like midnight. Hence midsummer and midwinter. It takes a bit of getting accustomed to, but these are old, old ideas more attuned to the natural seasons.

I talk about this traditional reckoning of time thing quite often in my Convivio Book of Days Blog, easily found through a web search. Best, John Cutrone

Laurie, do you know of

By Teresa Lewis Watts

Laurie, do you know of Shakespeare's great comic/romance play, "A Midsummer's Night Dream"? It takes place during the Summer Solstice, the longest daytime period of the year followed by the shortest nighttime period of the year in June...a time for magic, whimsy, beguilement, & fantasy.
"Midsummer" is also an agricultural term that indicates the 1/2 way mark between planting in the spring & harvesting crops in the fall :) You can check in the Oxford English Dictionary for further origin details.

Summer 2013 is an important

By Jokerneck1q

Summer 2013 is an important Summer because the house always wins meaning a deck of playing cards is divisible four ways! But the house lost in Miami last night so have a wonderful Summer 2013!

June 21st is a very special

By K.C.

June 21st is a very special day indeed for my firstborn child & only son arrived on this day in 1981. Everyone laughs when I remind them how auspicious that day truly was in our household! In 1981 you see June 21st was the longest day, first day of summer plus Father's Day. My husband became a Father for the first time that day! I can also attest to the length because my labor lasted for 20 hours! Memories made & memories yet to be made await us all each & everyday so please enjoy yourselves as this wonderous warm weather season begins!

Oh Wow, lots of things

By Arslan

Oh Wow, lots of things happened for on this day in 1981.
20 hr labor? Thats no fun. I am glad you made it through. Enjoy the summer :)

Mulberries...

By fistula

Mulberries...

I live in o side ca and I

By Michelle r

I live in o side ca and I will ccntinue. To kiss the sunset away as we do every day when as the sun sets on a beautiful day omg I love life,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I am a cancer girl you know that I am loving it,,,,,,,,,,,,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Bring on summer solstice I love my man, and he loves me! He is the greatest man in the world or to watch him surf in to the sunset might be good as well or paddle out with him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or go to the sun set fair on Thursday night. Enjoy your summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I was a youngster,

By The old man Dan

When I was a youngster, living in the northern latitudes, I place rocks on the north side of the house that marked the shadows of the summer and winter solstice and that of the equinox. While others celebrated the First Day of Spring, I celebrated the arrival of Sunshine on the rock equinox! The Day marked the moment when the sun arrived on OUR side of the equator! On that day I would skip school and in later years, take the day off work, in celebration!

But even at a young tender age, I had noticed that the rock nearest the house, would be in sunshine for only a few days. I watched the lengthening shadows after the summer solstice in June, and as a teen, realized that late June must actually be mid-summer!

I also knew it would be a short time before the sun would warm waters enough to go swimming! But the first day of summer meant school was out, and I would play and frolic
till the lengthening shadow nearly reached the rock of The Equinox!

This sounds like a wonderful

By DebbieTidd

This sounds like a wonderful thing to start doing with my family... The moments of memories like these are truly aspiring. Can you please tell me more about how it worked?

To: The Old Man Dan Re:

By Tina Ansara

To: The Old Man Dan
Re: When I was a youngster

Wow! What a wonderful memory! Thank you for sharing it here!

Tina

That really is quite

By Toni Dupont-Mora

That really is quite romantic.

Since the tropic of cancer

By HPL

Since the tropic of cancer marks the northward limit of the sun, and I live north of that line, how can the sun shine on the north wall of my house in the morning and afternoon in the summer?

At the summer solstice, the

By Almanac Staff

At the summer solstice, the Sun is overhead at the Tropic of Cancer, which means that there will be no shadow at that location at that point in time. This is the farthest north the Sun will be overhead. (At any point north of this line, except at the pole where it is totally dark in winter, you will always have some shadow.)

Except for Hawaii, all states in the United States, as well as all of Canada, are north of the Tropic of Cancer. In summer, the Sun will rise in the northeast and set in the northwest. However, the arc the Sun travels in the sky during the day is tilted toward the south, and in summer part of that arc crosses the east-west line to hover in the south. So, from sunrise to sunset in the summer, the Sun will be located in the sky in these approximate directions relative to your position:

Northeast (sunrise)
East (when the Sun crosses the East-West line)
Southeast
South (at local noon, Sun is highest overhead for the day)
Southwest
West (when the Sun again crosses the East-West line)
Northwest (sunset)

So, as I understand it, for a northern wall of a house with no obstructions, you'll need the Sun to be in a northerly direction. In the continental US and Canada, this happens in summer in the early morning (about northeast) and late afternoon (about northwest).

Although I totally agree that

By Mickey2371

Although I totally agree that June 20th etc is actually mid -summer,and Dec 21st is actually the middle of winter, I also take note that statistically the highest and lowest average temperatures usually occur Aug 1st-6th, and coldest, Feb 1 thru Feb 5th. This is due to the earth needing time to heat up, or cool down. Like a pot of water on a fire, once it heats up, and the heat is removed, the water takes a while to cool off. Thus Gregour and Pup above in their comments are quite correct. Look at the average tempatures and you will see that they are the highest in the first week of August, and lowest the first week of February. This is because the Earth needed time to heat/cool and the waining less direct sun has little effect until the heat or coolness it retained starts to wear off. As such the June 21st/ Dec 21st dates are not to far off LOGICALLY since the maximum effect is reached 6 weeks later.

I'm mad!!! Since when is the

By Tree

I'm mad!!! Since when is the first day of Summer on June 20??? My birthday ( and my daughter's) is on June 21 and THAT is the first day of Summer! Has been forever. Summer used to slide in about 1AM on June 21...we are bummed When did this abomination happen? Is this "global warming"? Does anyone have an answer?

It's different every year and

By Kban11

It's different every year and not just for the summer solstice.

The first day of summer (or

By The Stargeezer

The first day of summer (or any of the seasons for that matter) are not calendar events, they are astronomical events. Summer starts when the Sun reaches its furthest point north of the equator (the Tropic of Cancer). This year that is at 1:04am EDT on June 21. However, if you live in Mountain Time (like I do) it will be at 11:04pm on June 20. It has nothing at all to do with "global warming."

It's not exactly the same

By Joe Schnell

It's not exactly the same time every year. If the year has a leap day (Feb 29), the summer soltace will occur on June 21. The year prior to leap year, the summer soltace will happen on June 20. Also, it varies depending on your time zone.

All the comments,

By JuneBug28

All the comments, meteorological, astronomical, and historical are science combined with tradition. It is the first OFFICIAL day of summer! Celebrate!!

Anyone familiar with the

By Flyingwaters

Anyone familiar with the ancient Chinese calendar. I always remembered that spring began when the sap starts running, around the first of Feb. (Groundhog's to the west), spring beginning when the life energy begins to "rise" again out of the earth pushing sap and growth. You can actually "feel" the life energy in the air around that time. And likewise all the other seasons where earlier due to this theory. To me it is a very "energetic" based calendar, I like that becasue thats all everything is - energy (Enstein).

A little insight into the

By DruidJames

A little insight into the Druid outlook...
Summer Solstice “Litha”
Litha, Mid-summer. The summer solstice. June 21st. (This year on the 20th. Actually)
A time of great magical power. This holiday is also known as Mid-Summer festival.
The Cauldron is the main focal point in this celebration; it is ringed with fresh flowers and filled with spring water. This celebration is also a time for rededicating or initiations to the craft. A major symbolic gesture in ritual a sword is plunged into the cauldron, that sword would be used to anoint new members into the craft or to honor advancement in the craft.
Bonfire leaping is done to celebrate the renewal of the season and what this season brings forth from the Earth. It is also said it gives you luck for the coming year.
The first fresh herbs are hung around the fire to be blessed and cleansed from the smoke. After the herbs have been cleansed they are placed on the altar for blessings. Mugwort is one of the leading old school herbs and if you can find some really makes the ritual sing.
Mirrors are placed around the fire or altar to reflect the sun or candle light.
The traditional colors for altar and such are white, orange, and red.
Traditionally this celebration was started at high noon and would continue into the wee hours of morn. Modern Wiccans try to at least have a feast and celebration during mid day when the sun god is highest in the sky. The green Man is honored during the celebration as well and his renewed energies and the preparations for fall harvest are planned.

Thank you for posting your

By DLayD

Thank you for posting your comment. I appreciate learning more about the older traditions. They just resonate for me.

Living in Alaska we get 22

By AK girl

Living in Alaska we get 22 hrs of sun on the solstice. Nothing like bbqing outside after midnight with full sun! The sad part is after the solstice, we start losing daylight. In the winter we get 5 hrs and that's not much!

And Ketchican Alaska only 17

By Barrow Alaska has Sun 24 hours a day

And Ketchican Alaska only 17 hours of Sun in June.

Jesus was born in "April" or

By Skippy Magrue

Jesus was born in "April" or the first full moon after the spring solstice. An old Jewish guy told me that. But if you read the Bible, he really was born in the spring because it coincided with tax collecting and shepherds in the fields.

Why were shepherds in the

By Amy Magruder

Why were shepherds in the fields overnite at the time? Lambing season.

They would have no reason to be out in the fields overnite in December, which even in Palestine can be pretty cold especially at night.

I hit the wrong reply button.

By Skippy Magrue

I hit the wrong reply button. The comment above should be one main comment down. Please excuse me.

My kids used to get

By odot

My kids used to get frustrated with me for celebrating May 1 as the start of summer, August 15 as the start of fall, November 1 as the start of Winter, and February 2 as the start of Spring. As many readers have noted, however, the cross-quarter days do make more sense as the starts of seasons, with the mid-points being equinoxes and solstices. (That one should celebrate the start of summer just as the days start to get shorter is simply bizarre!) The Church in her wisdom marked these days as well, drawing on ancient tradition, with the summer solstice around the time of John the Baptist's birth ("he must increase, but I must decrease") followed 6 months later by the celebration of Jesus' birth, and preceded 3 months earlier (vernal equinox) by the Annunciation, which would have announced to Mary the birth 9 months later (Dec 25) of her son. (The Church supposed that the annunciation to Zechariah of John's birth occurred about September 25, i.e., about the time of the high feast of Yom Kippur in the Temple. Of course, Mar 25 (or thereabouts) was also the time for the events of Good Friday/Easter so the Church also understood Jesus to have been conceived about the time of his death and resurrection. May 1 was the feast of Saint Joseph, concluding the summer with the feast of Mary (Aug 15). Winter began with the remembrance of All the Saints who have died in Christ and concluded with the Feast of the Purification of Mary (Feb 2). Yes, the ancients -- from sages to farmers -- were MUCH more aware than most of us are of the cycles of the seasons and what they can teach us and how we can see in them a much greater teaching about things that transcend time.

Very insightful and informed

By Ana

Very insightful and informed post. Too bad this is not well known or accepted by traditional Christians. I am Christian, but understand the Church, ran by men, has deceived, killed, and misdirected millions of believers. They melded paganism and the bible and that is the reason so many Christian holidays coincide with much more ancient Pagan holidays and important dates.

Wow...That is the most

By Anonymous5

Wow...That is the most heretical view of Christian teachings I have ever heard! Talk about mixing pagan and Christian views! John was not talking about seasons - he was pointing out that the Son of God was more important than he was (it was very literal). The rest sounds like some kind of dogmatic mumbo jumbo.

It may sound heretical to you

By Isabelle in BC

It may sound heretical to you sadly but it is all completely true which shows how well the concept of "take over" worked. Christians had to organize their new religion and make it legit and they had to bury the old religions. One of the ways they used to do this, amongst others, was to take and revamp the pagan calendars. It is not heretical at all, just fact.

No offense intended here, but

By celtblood

No offense intended here, but the entire paradigm of Christianity is filled with mixtues of Paganism and what eventually became Christianity. The early (yet forming) Church loved "dogmatic mumbo jumbo", and yes, they did indeed adjust their liturgical calendar to match up with existing Pagan celebrations, as to make the transition from the Old Religions to the New Religion more acceptable to the masses. I suggest you read up on the tempest that was first century Christianity, and how the failing Roman Empire became involved and heavily influenced things. I would especially suggest you take a close look at the Council of Nicaea, as well as subsequent councils, and how the Bible was put together and edited, and the beliefs of the New Religion were voted on and eventually shaped and defined. You'll find a lot of Greek Paganism in there. It's a fascinating study, and one well worth undertaking.

Kind of like Westeros in Game

By Amy Magruder

Kind of like Westeros in Game of Thrones: "By the old Gods and the New" and even a third one "God of Light"! Yeesh, talk about turbulent times.

I love this article. Summer

By speakermaguire

I love this article. Summer to me means time with family, a much slower pace, enjoying the out of doors, more excercise outside, bike rides, running and really having a lot of fun! YEAH Summer!

I think you might consider

By Val Popov

I think you might consider rephrasing "There is a lag time between sunlight being produced and it actually hitting Earth." The lag time is only about 8 minutes and 19 seconds from when it is produced to when it actually hits earth. You may have chosen your words better, and what I think you meant, by saying that the sun's energy is stored in the earth's atmosphere and oceans, and this stored heat continues to dissipate after the summer solstice to keep the earth warm even until later in the summer. The opposite happens six months later in the winter, as this "lag" period keeps the earth cooler longer, even after the nights get shorter.

Thank you, Val Popov-- all

By Lyndon Stivers

Thank you, Val Popov-- all that you state is true. That said, again, none of these considerations have any bearing whatever upon the Solstices. They are when they are, and they are always the mid-point of the Suns' astronomical cycle.

you mean the solstices are

By Pup

you mean the solstices are the high and low point respectively, the mid points are the equinoxes.

Thank you for your feedback.

By Almanac Staff

Thank you for your feedback. We have revised our copy to (hopefully) make things clearer.

A photon 'produced' in the

By Anonymousrty

A photon 'produced' in the sun may bounce around for a thousand years before it breaches and can then begin the short journey here.

There are several

By Almanac Staff

There are several interpretations as to when each season begins.
In North America, calendars commonly use the astronomical definition. It is true that various countries, cultures, religions, organizations, and individuals may use definitions other than the astronomical. Because we are an almanac that provides astronomical data, however, that’s why we use the astronomical definition. For our weather predictions, however, we start with a more meteorological definition by providing Nov-March “winter” predictions, Apr-May for spring, June-Aug for summer and Sept/Oct for fall. Hope this is helpful. --Your OFA editors

No, you do not use the

By Lyndon Stivers

No, you do not use the astronomical definition, as the astronomical definition places the middle of Summer on June 20th and the middle of Winter on the 21st of December this year, with no variance whatsoever. If you're calling June 20th the "beginning of Summer" and December 21st the "Beginning of Winter", I'm really not sure what definition you're using (possibly rolling dice or consulting a magic eight ball), but it most certainly is not the astronomical definition.

Every kid knows that summer

By ~ Sil in Corea

Every kid knows that summer starts when school ends. Therefore, every school district defines summer differently.

Accept that summer is like pornography, as the Supreme Court Justice said, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it."

How true!

By dws

How true!

Okaaay i may off missed it

By Anonymoussss

Okaaay i may off missed it out haaa, but i live in south england, when does our summer start?!

This rain is doing my heading, this time last year it was hot and sunny. xD

Rest assured, it starts on

By Lyndon Stivers

Rest assured, it starts on May Day, same as everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere. It may be wet, even snowy, that doesn't matter. The Solstice will occur on 20 June regardless of what the local weather is doing. Based on that fact, the Summer season begins on the first of May. We still had snow on the ground this past Spring Equinox, but it was still the Spring Equinox, we didn't try to tell the Haevens they had to hold up on allowing the hours to balance until the weather felt right.

Summer in the Northern

By Lyndon Stivers

Summer in the Northern Hemisphere begins on May 1st. June 20th (or some years 21st, as the solstices vary) is actually Midsummer or the middle of the Summer season, just as the Winter Solstice is Midwinter, or the middle of Winter. If you're in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed and our Midsummer is their Midwinter (June), while our Midwinter is their Midsummer (December).

Please explain something to

By Logically Speaking

Please explain something to me. The Summer Solstice or Mid Summer's Day where the sun is at it's highest is surely the middle of summer as the name implies not the start of summer? As the winter solstice is the middle of winter not the start, also the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are the middle of spring and autumn respectively. Your seasons appear to be about a month and a half out.

There is a time lag, and two

By Gregour

There is a time lag, and two different "calendars" (as in, reference systems) ... (& I live in the Northern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed in the Southern, which might help, or just add confusion) ... if we lived anywhere off of the Earth entirely, we could still measure those astronomical (and astrological) cardinal points OF THE Earth's celestial orbit, so in fact some now refer to that as the Northern Solstice (and Midwinter is the Southern Solstice) ... later as the sun angle reduces, we are still warming more than we cool off into space, so the weather calendar, as it were, for the "pastoral year" makes more sense for us who actually go outside sometimes, and it is offset from this, by the amount you mention ... I DO NOT know why meteorologists join in the sloppy habit of calling that the "Official Start of Summer", but for example, Meteorological Summer began on June 1 and will cover the "summer months" as we experience them here (North America).

lets not bring meteorologists

By Pup

lets not bring meteorologists in on this they start summer on May 31st, Memorial day, and fall on Labor day August 31st, winter on thanksgiving or soon there after and spring on March 1st. Meteorologists have just muddied the waters.

for example I notice in one

By Gregour

for example I notice in one of these, this Almanac observes both, one for reporting astronomical events correctly, and meteorological seasons re: a weather calendar, which makes good sense.

Start of summer or winter

By Woodyboyd

Start of summer or winter depends on WHERE you are if you go by weather & feel...Northern border states, inland, will be colder than States on the ocean, for example. Ocean states will still get winter, but not as quickly...so dates are chosen for OTHER reasons.

If we went by "weather and

By Lyndon Stivers

If we went by "weather and feel", there'd be no point at all in even acknowledging the Solstices or Equinoxes. In fact, I guess using that sort of logic, we would have to hold off Christmas until we had snow and Easter until it was fair enough to hold egg hunts.

You've got yourself in a fog

By caseyatbat16

You've got yourself in a fog (I hope you don't drive as you'd probably drive the wrong way on a freeway and kill someone). Listen up, Fog-Bound....both Solstices and both Equinoxes signify the beginning (not the middle) of their respective seasons.
Got it? I can't draw you a picture here (you'll just have to trust me on this, F.B.)

Well, Casey, you are half

By Lyndon Stivers

Well, Casey, you are half right. The Equinoxes mark the balance of the length of day and night, one in the Spring and one in the Fall, so one could say they mark the astronomical beginning of those two respective seasons. However, the Solstices mark the high point and the low point of the Sun as it effects the Earth. In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter Solstice marks the shortest day at the same time it marks the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. This rule is reversed for the Summer Solstice. Each marks the MID-point of these two solar cycles, not the beginning of either.

I 100% agree with you, but

By PaganBaby

I 100% agree with you, but it's really just semantics at this point. All the pagan cultures that compiled the basic mapping for our present-day meteorology have been wiped out, and their holidays misconstrued. But of course the names MIDsummer and MIDwinter are a clue to their ancient meanings. Not to mention, think about the weather? And "Groundhog's Day"? It was originally called Imbolc and marks the change of the weather from winter to spring.

The pagan cultures may have

By FireFeastie

The pagan cultures may have disappeared, but the beliefs are, obviously, still held and the Feast Days still celebrated by many. This is very similar to the misconception of when the new century began. If you really consider it, the old millennium actually ended Dec 31, 2000 the last day of the 2000th year, and the new millennium actually began Jan 1, 2001, or the first day of the 3000th. We do say 21st century, do we not? But everybody celebrated it (and feared it) a year early. If the world really was going to come to the end with the end of the 20th century, would it be 'just semantics' if that little surprise hit us on Dec 31, 2001? We live with our heads so stuffed with what we hear and read, that we don't bother to think things through for ourselves anymore. (When was the last time someone actually counted out change to you instead of just looking at the cash register and saying "Your change is $x.xx"?) It's a good thing that the Earth doesn't depend on our arbitrary naming of things to carry on her grand schedule!

There were a lot of people

By kampaige

There were a lot of people that thought it Dec 31,1999 was the end of the century. Most realized it actually wasn't but it was the first time we actually hit the year 2000 that was celebrated. The fear was not so much the start of a new century but how computers were not set up to recognize anything beyond the year 1999. If you were a computer programmer you would have spent months to years trying to write programs to keep everything running.

You are absolutely correct,

By Lyndon Stivers

You are absolutely correct, June 20th (or 21st, as the date varies) is actually MID-Summer, with Summer having begun on May Day or May 1st. Our modern almanacs, calendars, and often weather people are simply wrong when they say "Summer begins on June 20th". As often happens in our modern world, the older traditions and definitions-- usually more accurate due to our ancestors having been far better attuned to the Earth and her cycles-- have become blurred in the rat race we now find ourselves in the midst of. I'm not sure how those who are supposed to know these things ever got something so simple so wrong, but they did. By the way, 20 or 21 December is also Midwinter, the middle of Winter, and not the "First Day of Winter", which is actually the 1st of November.

Each season lasts 13 weeks or

By Denny Rambo

Each season lasts 13 weeks or 91 days. So the MiD-winter day would have to be about the 45th/46th day of the season. If Nov. 1st was the first day of winter then Dec 21st would be about 51 days out - how could that be the middle ?

People keep arguing about when the sun starts to head back the other direction whether you want to call that the beginning of a cycle or the middle - it really doesn't matter, it's the same event happening at the same time as decided by God and earth and nature. What overlay measuring system any man, religion or culture uses to measure how it fits into their own lives doesn't change anything.

depends on if you are going

By Pup

depends on if you are going by the pagan calendar or the astronomical calendar. And which pagans you talk to.

Being a meteorologist, we

By WeatherTed

Being a meteorologist, we work with climatology a lot. Temperatures across North America can be placed into "Meteorological" seasons. Meteorological Summer begins June 1st, Fall begins September 1st and so on. Sometimes you'll hear the local TV weather person mention this.

Hi, Ted, thanks for the info.

By Lyndon Stivers

Hi, Ted, thanks for the info.

If this is the case, I would suggest all the meteorologists get together and learn that the "meteorlogical" seasons do not reflect the astronomical seasons (anymore than chill factors accurately reflect actual temperatures), and address this in your broadcasts. I feel this is precisely one of the major reasons so many are confused regarding the true beginnings and midpoints of both Summer and Winter.

As for your "Meteorological Summer" beginning on June 1st, my garden and yard would beg to differ. We planted around the first of May, and by the first of June everything was in full growth phase.

One last thing... if you're saying "Meteorological Summer" begins June 1st, why do all of our local meteorologists continue to try to claim Summer begins on June 20th?

Wouldn't it just be a lot simpler (and far less confusing) if everyone-- the meteorologists, the almanacs, the calendars, and whomever else might be considered "knowledgable" in this field-- just admitted they had it wrong for a time and went back to the true and accurate designations? I think most of the public would appreciate it greatly. I certainly know I would.

You know, Lyndon, I agree

By Who cares??

You know, Lyndon, I agree 100%. That has been bothering me for a long time, too. I just get so upset when everyone gets it wrong. I mean, I could be outdoors playing with my dog or going to a pool party, but instead I stay indoors and blog on the computer to split hairs because this subject is so important to me. Those dang meteorologists!!

The solstice does indeed

By Almanac Staff

The solstice does indeed herald the beginning of the astronomical season. Which season? It depends on where you live!
At the June solstice:
* Summer starts in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
* The North pole is tipped 23-1/2 degrees toward the Sun.
* The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer at local noon.
At the December solstice:
* Winter starts in the Northern Hemisphere, and summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
* The South Pole is tipped 23-1/2 degrees toward the Sun.
* The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at local noon.

Not to sound contrary, but

By Lyndon Stivers

Not to sound contrary, but this response fails to answer the question of why such an iconic publication as the Old Farmers' Almanac would deliberately choose to mis-name Midsummer and falsely designate it "the beginning of Summer". We understand the differences in the seasonal cycles in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, with our Winter being their Summer and vice verse. That has nothing to do with when Summer begins in either hemisphere.

When I addressed this issue directly to the editorial staff, I was given the same line about the hemispheres, along with "we use the astronomical date". Well, 20 June IS the astronomical Midsummer, there is no other. The Sun reaches its' high point for the year, and the manifestation of the Summer Solstice marks the immediate reversal of the waxing energy of the Sun, as at that point the Sun's energy begins to wane, and the days begin to grow shorter. How anyone could get that this is the "beginning" of Summer has me utterly confused. Show me a logical reason for this and I'll accept it. Otherwise, I would advise getting it right by dropping all this "beginning of Summer on the Solstice" nonsense. Summer as a season began on the first of May-- June 20th this year is the middle of Summer, and Summer will end on the Autumnal Equinox in September.

One would like to believe the Old Farmers' Almanac would be, of all almanacs and calendars, the one we could depend on to be accurate. By designating the Solstices as the "beginning of" Winter and Summer, you're only discrediting your publication.

So let's see. There are 52

By Denny Rambo

So let's see. There are 52 weeks in a year, meaning if all seasons equal, they all last 13 weeks. If you are saying that summer runs from May 1st to the fall equinox (approx. Sep 21st), then you are claiming that summer lasts about 20 1/2 weeks. I assume you say Winter runs from Nov. 1st to the spring equinox. You should make it more clear that you think summer and winter lasts 20 1/2 weeks and fall and spring only 5 1/2 weeks - a theory I've never heard or you should go back and do your math before beating up the almanac.

Yes, the definition of when a

By Almanac Staff

Yes, the definition of when a season begins can vary between countries, cultures, organizations, and individuals. For example, the ancient Celts considered equinoxes and solstices (called quarter days) as the midway points of the seasons. Their cross-quarter days (halfway between quarter days) were the beginning of the seasons. Astronomically speaking, however, the seasons begin at the equinoxes and solstices, which define four unique points along Earth’s orbit, in which the Northern or Southern Hemisphere tilts toward the Sun (summer), away from the Sun (winter), or is neutral--neither leaning toward nor away from the Sun (spring, autumn).

An astronomical definition does not directly take into account what is going on within Earth’s atmosphere. Other definitions focus on how the Sun’s intensity (energy) or heat affects the surface. A meteorological definition of seasons, for example, often is based on temperature. An international meteorological definition separates the year into groups of three months: March 1 is the beginning of spring; June 1 starts summer; September 1, autumn; and December 1, winter. However, days of greatest warmth and cold (on average), or length of season, can vary by region depending on their proximity to water, latitude, prevailing winds, etc.

Other seasonal definitions take into account annual responses by plants and animals. Or, define the seasons according to religious or cultural criteria.

For The Old Farmer’s Almanac, because we are a calendar of the heavens, we officially use the astronomical definition. But, we certainly agree that there is more than one way to define when the seasons begin.

I completely agree with you!!

By Anonymous16

I completely agree with you!! Thank you for making an educational response.

When looking at the whole

By Hanna

When looking at the whole year it is more accurate to think of there being 8 days to celebrate. The soltice's, equinox's a nd the 4 quarter points. Then th changing into and out of each season and when we are experiencing the fullness of each season is more clearly defined. May day is the official end of sping beginning of summer, and the solstice is the hight and middle of summer, August first is then actually the begging of fall and end of summer And in September at the equinox we are in the midst of fall. And so it goes every six weeks e are in the newnes of either the waxing or the waning of the season.

Midsummer is the pagan name

By Pup

Midsummer is the pagan name for the summer solstice. it is inaccurate. Same for midwinter. Midwinter is more properly dated as February 1st and called Imbolc and Midsummer is on August 1st and is called Lughnasadh. Misinterpretation of the Pagan names and dates have caused much confusion on this topic. Summer Solstice is called Litha and winter solstice is called Yule. Note these pagan names for the seasonal break ups are only for the northern hemisphere. The entire pagan calendar is as follows: Yule (winter solstice) December 19-22, Imbolc (Midwinter) February 1st, Ostara (Spring Equinox)March 19-22, Beltane (Mid Spring) May 1st, Litha (Summer Solstice) June 19-22, Lughnasadh (Midsummer) August 1st, Mabon (Autumnal Equinox) September 19-22, Samhain (Mid Autumn) October 31st, and bringing us back to Yule.

Actually, Midsummer and

By celtblood

Actually, Midsummer and Midwinter are not Pagan terms, they're just the old terms for the high point of Summer and the high point of Winter (much as fortnight is an older term once frequently used, but is now mainly considered archaic). The Neo-Pagan revival brought Midsummer and Midwinter into that movement as they were adopted as proper names for the festivals in some traditions, but they aren't particular to Paganism and never were, as they continued to be used long after the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion.

You are right.

By Melannk

You are right.

I live in Arizona. When the

By Krina

I live in Arizona. When the temperatures are going to heat up above 110 degrees, the little red ants get VERY busy and aggressive. They furiously build new nests and attack anything that moves near the entrance. The rest of the year they are hardly noticeable.

Signs of Summer - contribues

By jerry.l.litton

Signs of Summer - contribues to a peaking of natural systems. Heat this year seems a little early but there are records that say that is not unusual and sets no records. Snow is a little late since some flooding is now happening in the mid-west and upper Mississippi Valley, contrary to opinion that flood is not nearly over. Piled dirt does not a levee make, it takes aged piled dirt with roots and natural compaction to hold back water, got to be there long enough to mature some or we are just plain lucky when it works and is a new pile of dirt. Every things else is in vain. I suspect all animals and plants have sense to know summer soltice where ever they are and that intelligence or wisdom is handed down from generation to generation in every species with exception, humans, we don't seem to learn from practice or experience, animals and plants have seen success or mortality of their current nesting fruiting attampts and know time is running out for them in relation to have a successful nesting with a living healthy chick or young or seed for next season and that food, some of this seasons new growth, will become a little more scarce with change in atmosphere and climate rotations, having been eaten as a young or maturing enough to hid, fight back or jsut out run others oong neough to grow up some. It is when plants, arid and aquatic should be matured or fruiting if they are going to repopulate with enough excess to foster a new generation that must wait for a freeze or some kind of reinstituation of vitality to grow anew again. Plants and animals like us have a sense of night, day, cold, hot and in between; wet, dry, windy and calm, bright sun, cloudy, raining, drought, and adjust commonly and intuititively. They use it like we use it, they for life processes, we for work, play, good, bad and in between reasons however they like God said subdue it,, he didn't say kill it all, but enough to get by. Humans do more to quell nature: making hot when it is cold, making cold when it is hot, wet where water should not be, us where it is unhospitable and us where it is unethecial, killing out of anget and sickness and when not hungry. We do this in church, halls of congress, in or out of uniform, in our homes, bedrooms and living places, in our use of things and in our behavior.
Summer soltice is any other day that is naturally hot in most places on this side and on the other end of earth, winter soltice, is cold in most places. Luckly the deviding line is the equator where weather and climate is made, even the cold ends of earth is the result of what happens near the center of earth and is possibly driven due to rotation of earth , that centrificual rotation that spins every thing aerodinamicly and the only fully established method of energy and force of a natural claim to sustainablity, it spins floational and air bornes out as far as it can go making kenetic energy that does drive climate and atmosphere and from that we get all our variables in summer, winter, and climate exchanges making weather. One of two most important days in our rotation, the other one winter soltice. How lucky can we get.

Wow, just relax and enjoy

By delmon bawens

Wow, just relax and enjoy it.

Post new comment

Before posting, please review all comments. Due to the volume of questions, Almanac editors can respond only occasionally, as time allows. We also welcome tips from our wonderful Almanac community!

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.