EVERETT June 18: The summer solstice is Thursday, June 20, at 1:50 p.m., marking the longest day of the year in Everett at 16 hours, 2 minutes. The summer solstice is also the beginning of astronomical summer more commonly called the beginning of summer. After June 20, days will gradually get shorter heading into the autumn equinox in late September.

Throughout human history, many have observed the summer solstice with celebrations and rituals. Ancient Greeks marked the solstice as the start of the New Year and started the one-month countdown to the opening of the Olympic Games.

Ancient European pagans welcomed the solstice with bonfires with hopes of a good fall harvest. Bonfires were also associated with magic, banishing evil spirits and often led maidens to future husbands. Stonehenge in the south of England is aligned with the direction of sunrise on the summer solstice – one of many theories about the purpose of this megalith monument where thousands gather each year to commemorate the longest day of the year.

Many Native Americans participated in solstice rituals still practiced today. For example, The Sioux perform a ceremonial sun dance while wearing symbolic colors.

Today, many still celebrate the summer solstice. Parades and festivals are the most common. In Northern Europe, bonfires are lit, and homes are decorated with garlands. In parts of Scandinavia, people dance around Maypoles.

On June 20, we all can celebrate the start of summer with the weather outlook offering a good chance of warmer and drier conditions going into September – something many can also celebrate following a cool damp weekend ahead of the solstice.