Druids and dancing on the year’s longest day

A place in the sun: Britons enjoyed over 16 hours of daylight on Thursday.

Should we worship the sun? On June 21, the summer solstice, half the world enjoyed their longest day of the year. Our ancestors would have celebrated the day quite differently…

What’s happening

Last Thursday, the northern hemisphere celebrated the summer solstice — the day on which it gets the most sunlight. Druids partied at Stonehenge. Greeks trekked up Mount Olympus, where the ancient gods were said to live. People everywhere went outside to enjoy the longest day of the year.

Find out more

Long ago, when humans were just starting to understand the universe, many societies worshipped sun gods. They associated the sun with life, knowledge and justice.

The summer solstice often had a special importance. Stonehenge was built such that the sun only hits the middle stones on this day. The Romans and Chinese both linked the festival with female power.

Religions like Christianity, which worship only one god, changed people’s views on the sun. So did science, which explains how our nearest star works, making it less mysterious.

Yet, to some, it is still a god. Some Native American tribes perform a sun dance on the solstice. In Europe, we have not forgotten the traditions of our ancestors.

Is it time to start worshipping the sun again?

Some say…

Don’t be silly. Our ancestors worshipped the sun because they did not know better. They were worried that it might stop blessing them with its light if they angered it. Now we know that it will rise every morning, no matter what. A party at Stonehenge every year is fine, but there is no point in reviving old, backwards religious beliefs.

Others think…

There is still a lot we do not know about the sun. Scientists worry that it will get bigger, eventually destroying Earth. If religion is partly based on fear and wonder, sun worship makes sense as we face an uncertain future. Anyway, celebrating the sun makes us feel closer to nature, and appreciate everything we have. That can’t be a bad thing.

You Decide

  1. Will people always worship gods?

Activities

  1. Invent your own ancient god, explaining their powers and characteristics. They do not have to be connected to the sun.

Some People Say...

“Turn your face towards the sun. Let the shadows fall behind you.”

Rihanna

What do you think?

Word Watch

Northern hemisphere
The northern half of the planet. Its longest and shortest days are the exact opposite of the southern hemisphere’s.
Solstice
The only other solstice is the winter solstice, in late December, when the day is shortest.
Druids
Priests or spiritual guides in the ancient religion of the Celts.
Star
Our sun is in fact a star. Some other stars also have planets revolving around them.
Reviving
Bringing back.

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