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Father's Day, which will be celebrated on June 20, 2021, promises to be extra special this year. The Earth will join in the festivities with the June solstice, kicking off the Northern Hemisphere's first day of summer. Conversely, Southern Hemisphere residents will celebrate the astronomical start of winter, or winter solstice, with the shortest day of 2021.
While all countries north of the equator will enjoy the year's longest day with at least 12 hours of daylight, many will receive even more. The residents of the beautiful city of San Francisco, California, will bask in over 14 hours of sunshine, while the folks in London, United Kingdom, will receive over 18 hours. The sun will set for just three hours in Stockholm, Sweden, and not at all at the Arctic Circle.
Though the celebrations extend throughout the day, the solstice marks the moment when the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer — its most northerly point in the sky. This year, that will occur at 11:32 PM ET (8:32 PM PT). One of the oldest and most revered solstice events takes place at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England. The Neolithic stone circle, which is designed to align with the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset, annually attracts thousands of visitors from across the world. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, fans have had to watch the spectacular phenomena online since 2020.
Swedish residents mark the day by weaving fresh flowers into wreaths and crowns. The age-old custom is believed to harness nature’s magic to ensure good health for the year. Also popular are traditional dances around special maypoles, or midsummer poles, decorated with greenery and flowers.
In Poznan, Poland, “St. John’s Night” is celebrated during the solstice week with the release of thousands of candle-lit paper lanterns containing personal messages from their creators. In 2012, the locals established a Guinness World Record by setting free 15,000 colorful lanterns that illuminated the skies with a breathtaking display of bright dots.
Japan's “Candle Night” puts a modern-day twist on the event. The eco-friendly celebration, which started in 2003, urges residents to turn off all lights and electrical devices from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM on the evening of the solstice. Austrians, meanwhile, celebrate the day by lighting bonfires on mountain tops to ward off evil spirits.
Alaska marks the June solstice over several days with various events, including festivals and marathons. The most unusual is the Midnight Sun Game in Fairbanks. The fun tradition, which dates back to 1906, entails playing baseball at midnight on summer solstice without the use of artificial light.
Does your town or city have a fun activity to celebrate the year's longest (or shortest) day? Be sure to share the details with us in your comments below.