Lisa's week

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Lisa's week: Summer Solstice

Summer solstice

As I sit here writing this, day has just turned into night on the longest day of the year. In English, we call this the Summer Solstice, which is a word that is derived from the Latin words “sol” (meaning sun) and “sister” (meaning to stand still). This is because the Sun’s movement, as seen from Earth, seems to momentarily come to a full stop directly over the Tropic of Cancer before reversing direction and seeming to head south again. At this moment, the Earth is most inclined towards the Sun and we get the most sunlight of the whole year.

As the Earth tilts away from the Sun for the following six months, the days will get shorter until the Winter Solstice on 21st December which is, therefore, the shortest day of the year. All of this is of course valid for the northern hemisphere and is reversed for those who live in the southern hemisphere – they are “celebrating” their shortest day today!

This day is celebrated around the world in different ways, and most of us are familiar with Sweden’s midsummer celebrations. Most Swedes leave the city to party in the countryside, where they raise a May Pole and wear the most beautiful crowns of leaves and flowers in their hair, before partying through the night which, for most of the country, doesn’t actually get dark.

In the UK, the most popular and well-known celebration is held at Stonehenge in the Wiltshire countryside where sun-worshiping Druids have been marking the Summer Solstice for thousands of years. This year, the sun will rise at 4.52am and will set at 9.26pm providing 16 ½ hours of daylight. The infamous stones are positioned to align with the sunrise on both the summer and winter solstices. You can see the sun rise directly over the Heel Stone, which is just outside the stone circle, if you stand in exactly the right place inside the ring. Druids cloaked in white, hooded robes travel to Stonehenge for this event and these days, thousands of curious people join them. The circle is closed for general admission on this day as it is handed over to those celebrating the solstice. It is a great chance to get nearer to the stones than during the rest of the year and many take the chance to get up close and personal to the most famous prehistoric site in the UK.

Even Google marked the occasion today, providing a small animated graphic for both the northern and southern hemisphere.

Personally, I took the chance to take a few photos of the darkening sky and noted that as late as 10.55pm, it wasn’t completely dark here in the city.

What did you do to mark this special day?


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!

Episode 48: Left over from the Middle Ages!

Episode 49: More calendar food-based ponderings

Episode 50: We use German words too

Episode 51: Celebrating St George

Episode 52: The perfect start to the day

Episode 53: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 1)

Episode 54: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 2)

Episode 55: The tiny apostrophe is actually something big (part 3)

Episode 56: Holiday season is coming!

Episode 57; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 1

Episode 58; ‘Tis the season (of Bank Holidays) – part 2