A Druid at the United Kingdom's ancient Stonehenge monument prayerfully greets the Northern Hemisphere's summer solstice. At Stonehenge, celebrants in the center of the standing stones can still watch the summer solstice sun rise over the Heel Stone, just outside the stone circles.
Summer solstice traditions from around the world
From rock concerts to Stonehenge, people in the northern hemisphere have been celebrating the longest day of the year for centuries.
The summer solstice—also called midsummer—marks the moment when the North Pole is angled more toward the sun than on any other day of the year, resulting in the longest period of sunlight of the year for the top half of the planet. Long seen as signifying growth and life, the astronomical event has an ancient history of being recognized as a special event in the calendar. As such, many cultures around the world have developed celebrations and rituals to coincide with it.
Ancient Egyptians aligned the Great Pyramids so that the sun, when viewed from the Sphinx, sets precisely between two of the pyramids on the summer solstice.
In a long-buried Mayan city in Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered the remains