June 21st - First Day Of Summer

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If Father's Day seems to be dragging on forever, it's because today also happens to be the longest day of the year and the first day of summer for all of you who live in the Northern Hemisphere.

Known as the solstice, it happens twice a year - once when the Earth's axis is tilted toward the sun (summer solstice) and the second time when the axis is tilted away (winter solstice).

Countries in the Southern Hemisphere experience a similar phenomenon, except in their case, the days are reversed, today is the first day of winter and sometime in mid-December, will be the first day of summer.

The amount of daylight received in different areas depends on their location. For example Washington will receive almost 15 hours, while the islands of Hawaii will have to be happy with just a tad over 13. Alaska on the other hand, will receive 21hrs 30 minutes, - And if you happen to go north of the Arctic Circle today, you will be treated to a full 24 hours of daylight.

Just like the winter solstice, this day is celebrated in many Northern Hemisphere countries. One of the biggest celebrations took place in England, where 35,000 people gathered to welcome the sun at Stonehedge, a 4,000-year-old monument to the sun.

In Sweden the day is celebrated annually with a week-long traditional festival that starts on June 19th and ends on the 25th. In Poland, they prefer to light bonfires and jump over them to ward of evil spirits.

Japan celebrates the occasion with 'Candle Night' - an event that begins the night before the solstice and lasts until July 7th. The movement that began in 2003, encourages the people of Japan and worldwide, to switch off their lights (and all electrical devices) from 8.00pm to10pm during this period, in order to appreciate the natural light. Not only does it help the environment, but also allows people to spend quality time with their friends and family.

New York celebrates this first day of summer in great style too. Hundreds of people get together at the world famous Times Square, for a full day of open air yoga. The event is free and all that is required is a yoga mat and a willingness to bend in awkward positions right in the middle of the bustling city!

Does your town or city do anything special for summer solstice? If so be sure to let us know by adding you comment below.

Sources:examiner.com, earthsky.org,xinhuanet.com, chiff.com,, dailygazette.com, candle-light.org,associatedcontent.com

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