‘The summer solstice usually falls on June 21 but moved up in 2012 because it’s a leap year. On this day, the Earth’s axis is tilted at 23.4 degrees to the plane of the solar system, and the North Pole is most tipped toward the sun, which means more daylight than any other day if you live north of the equator …




Summer Solstice 2011 (Reuters/Kieran Doherty)

Over the years, the solstice triggered massive celebrations at places like Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, which were designed to have the sun set exactly between two pyramids on the solstice itself’ …


***


‘In Quebec, Canada, the celebration of (the summer solstice on) June 24 was brought to New France by the first French colonists. Great fires were lit at night. According to the Jesuit Relations, the first celebrations of St John’s day in New France took place around 1638. In 1834, Ludger Duvernay, printer and editor of La Minerve took the leadership of an effort to make June 24 the national holiday of the Canadiens (French Canadians). In 1908, Pope Pius X designated John the Baptist as the patron saint of the French-Canadians. In 1925, June 24 became a legal holiday in Quebec and in 1977, it became the secular National Holiday of Quebec. It still is the tradition to light great fires on the night of the 24th of June.’