Sunday, June 21, 2009


I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the summer solstice. It’s the longest day of the year; so much sun, so much life. We never did anything about it during my upbringing, but I started inviting people out to the beach for the summer solstice around the time I started working at eCivis. It wasn’t out of paganism or anti-Catholic sentiments or anything too subversive. I simply enjoy the grandiosity of science, the starting pistol of summer, the predictability of the earth’s wobble.

I remember the first time I invited people out to the beach after we moved to San Francisco, my roommate Brian set out some chicken to thaw in the sun—yeah, strange, I know—and since the sun was on the northern side of our apartment, he set it on the dining room table. Five months later, the sun was pouring through my window on the south side of the apartment, and I got really excited because the movement of the sun was so overtly evident. Brian wasn’t as excited.

Whatever, Brian. You thaw meat in the sun. Heathen.

Anyway, today’s summer solstice in Samoa isn’t nearly as exciting for 2 reasons. First, it’s pouring rain right now as it has been for most of the day. Second, Samoa’s in the southern hemisphere, so today is the winter solstice. It’s the shortest day of the year in Samoa. The sun rose just before 7 a.m. and set around 5:30 p.m. It’s all dark and dreary.

It’s just one of the problems in the northern hemisphere centric world we live in. Christmas is the Christian incarnation of the pagan holiday to celebrate the winter solstice; I think the 25th of December is the first day that longer days are perceptible by human standards. So the darkness and dreariness of the winter solstice is alleviated by a big celebration.

Here in the southern hemisphere they have it backwards. The big celebration comes right along with the longest day of the year. True, it’s the same holiday that I’d invite friends out to the beach for, but I think it works better as my own informal holiday. Here, like everywhere else, Christmas is a cultural phenomenon. But who needs a season of giving in the middle of the summer?

So, without being too dramatic, I want to call for a southern hemisphere revolution. Gone away is the blue bird, here to stay is the new bird! The days are about to get longer once more! Run out to the garage, pull out the tinsel, the wreaths, the decorations. Whip up some egg nog. It’s time to celebrate! Another year over, a new one about to begin! The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them has the light shined. For today, the sun changes course through the sky.

Better yet, just come to Samoa. We’ll all go to the beach to celebrate. Cool?

Bring beer.

I hope your solstice was great, whichever side of the equator you’re on. Pictures below.

Potential celebration at Town Hall in Auckland.

Potential celebration in Cape Town.

Potential celebration in Buenos Aires.

Potential celebration in Sydney.

Potential celebration in Apia.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

You absolutely crack me up!
:) Deb