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Religious information about the Summer Solstice/Midsummer

Part 3: Significance of modern Solstice
celebrations around the world
. Solstice books

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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Midsummer celebrations in modern times:

  • In Alaska a new celebration at the Summer Solstice was created in 1906: a Midnight Sun Game. The Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks, AK play a baseball game starting at 10:30 PM local time and extending into the early hours of the next morning. This is made possible without artificial lighting by the presence of the sun for 24 hours a day at this time of year. The sun never sets.

  • In Italy, tradition states that Galileo Galilei had his run-in with the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the Summer Solstice of 1633 CE. The Church at the time taught that the Earth was placed by God at the center of the universe, and that the Moon, Sun, and stars rotated around the Earth. For Galileo to displace the Earth as the center of the solar system and the rest of the universe was a very serious theological error. Galileo had been warned by the Church to abandon his heretical teachings. However, in 1632, he published a book titled: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. He was arrested, shown the torture instruments that the Church would use on him if he did not recant his findings, and was tried. He wisely agreed to stop promoting heliocentrism. He was sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. The died eight years later. 1

    The Church took a while to acknowledge their error. This was delayed in part because of the official position of the Catholic Church that it cannot be in error; only individual Catholics can. After a 13-year study of the Church's condemnation of Galileo, Pope John Paul II acknowledged in a speech on 1992-OCT-31 that the Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years previously. Catholics can now assert, with no fear of persecution, that the earth does go around the sun.

To our knowledge, nobody bases their Summer Solstice celebraton on the date of Galileo's trial. But perhaps they should. Alternately, a celebration of the victory of science over religion could be held on OCT-31, the date of the Pope's apology. Unfortunately, this is already celebrated generally as Halloween and also by Wiccans 2,3 and other Neopagans as Samhain.

  • Around the world, Wiccans and other Neopagans celebrate in June, calling the occasion Midsummer, Summer Solstice, Litha

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Books related to the Summer Solstice:

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Galileo Galilei," Wikipedia, as on 2015-JUN-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Janet & Stewart Farrar, "Eight Sabbats for Witches," Phoenix Publishing, (1981), P. 143 to 144.
  3. Selena Fox, "Summer solstice celebrations for families and households," http://www.circlesanctuary.org/

Other sources of information on the summer solstice:

Information on the date and time of the Solstice:

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015-JUN-17
Latest update: 2015-JUN-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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