Midsummer nights

Midsummer. Long days, bright nights, a play by Shakespeare, the fabled White Nights in St Petersburg, where people don’t bother going to bed. A brief chance to party before the sun recedes for another year. It’s all based on the Earth’s angle of inclination and the point of its path around the sun.

Stonehenge, the famous stone circle on the Salisbury Plain in England, is the site of one of the best known midsummer celebrations. On the day of the solstice it is claimed that an observer in the centre of the ring will see the sun rise over the heel stone. But actually, that isn’t true.

More than one person has pointed out that ancient people were less likely to care about the summer solstice than the winter solstice and indeed, it seems Stonehenge was set up to record the mid-winter event. This rather good article gives more information. Why? Because winter was a time of freezing cold and biting hunger. The nights were long and dark and people prayed and made sacrifices for the return of the sun. That’s why we celebrate Christmas in the way we do – many ancient traditions are mixed into the Christian myth.

Needless to say, lining the sun up with geological objects has made its way into science fiction and fantasy, too. One that springs to mind is Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Thread would return when the red star was bracketed in the star stone. The creation of the warning sign was part of the plot in Red Star Rising (Dragonseye in the US).

Mid winter isn’t always so awful, though. It depends on how far you live from the equator. It’s mid winter for me right now but in the sub-tropics it isn’t a real hardship. To those of you in the frozen north, enjoy your time in the sun.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something to read on the beach, and you like science fiction with a bit of romance on the side, you might like to download one of my books. Please come inside and check out the selection. Leave me a comment and be in the draw to win an ebook of your choice from my titles.

What’s more, you’ll be in the running to win one of TWO GRAND PRIZES!

1st Prize – a Kindle Touch or Nook Touch
2nd Prize -a library of science fiction romance titles from over 20 authors (these will be mostly ebooks with one print anthology), and an Anabanana Gift Card.

For more chances to win pop along to the blogs listed below and comment on as many as you want (only ONE comment per site will count as an entry). Each time you comment at a stop, you’ll earn one entry into the grand prize – so the more sites you visit, the greater your chances of winning. The winners will be drawn at random on the 24th June and announced on this site. The list of participating authors can be found at this link.


56 thoughts on “Midsummer nights

  1. Kyndra Hatch

    I’ve never been to your part of the world. For those of you having winter at this time, I guess the blog hop should have been just a solstice one, instead of a summer solstice one. Loved your post!

    1. Greta van der Rol

      It’s interesting. I think the Northern Hemisphere tends to forget there’s another one. I think we down under are much more aware of the other side of the world. I guess we see it on the telly a lot.

  2. Liz Semkiu

    I enjoyed your post very much. I love those Pern stories! Our life would be very different without our sun. Thanks for the contest.

  3. drmgrl99

    As I said before on another post – I love learning things and this hop so far has taught me a few new things – thanks!

  4. Kayelle Allen

    Hadn’t thought about how different the sky would be in different hemispheres. I’d like to see that! It might give me a feel for being on an alien world.

    1. Greta van der Rol

      It’s very different. For example, we can’t see the North star (the big dipper) and the constellations are up the other way. Eg. Orion looks like a huge saucepan to us, with the sword pointing up.

  5. bn100

    Very interesting post. I’d like to visit Stonehenge.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

  6. AnnaM

    Thanks for participating. I’ve been curios about Stonehenge since I was little. It does inspire.
    AnnaM
    doxisrcool at aol dot com

    1. Greta van der Rol

      Stonehenge is an amazing place. There’s a lot we don’t know about it. Those stone age folk were pretty smart – much smarter than we give them credit for.

  7. Cheryl Corbin

    I adored the Pern books and never really thought about the Star Stones connection to Stonehenge. Thanks for sharing the info!

    Cheryl
    cheryl(at)cherylcorbin(dot)com

  8. Susan W.

    Very interesting post! I prefer the winter night sky to the summer. The air is much clearer and the stars are brighter but I can see how the ancient people would be more concerned with a winter solstice. Thanks for the giveaway!
    suz2(at)cox(dot(net

  9. Hywela Lyn

    Very interesting post. I live in the UK, and the winter solstice is usually accompanied by cold and rain, although the last two years we’ve had snow. This year the summer solstice was nearly as chilly. (I think Summer fell on a Wednesday, LOL!) I love the Anne McCaffrey ‘dragonriders of Pern’ series too.

  10. viklit

    Very nice post about the importance of the winter solstice.

    Enjoying this blog hop and discovering new people to follow! (following you now)

    Viklitblog (AT) gmail.com

  11. mystickattales

    I never knew that about Stonehenge being the counter for Mid-winter. And today, isn’t too frozen here in the Northern Hemisphere…it’s been running close to 100 near NYC. – Loved the Pern series. You mentioning it makes me want to go back and read it again.

    Blessings,

    Kathleen Scott

  12. bookattict

    Thanks for the interesting post and amazing giveaway!

    elizabeth @ bookattict . com

  13. Jessica Subject

    I do enjoy the snow, but not the long periods of darkness. I’m enjoying the long days now. 🙂

    All the best!
    Jess
    jessicasubject.writer at gmail dot com

  14. VanillaOrchids

    Very nice post! I’m actually learning quite a bit going through the participating sites for this blog hop!
    As much as I dislike the biting cold of winter, I’m not too crazy about summer. I prefer the milder weather of spring or fall to be honest. LOL

    Pam
    vanillaorchids69(at)gmail(dot)com

  15. Shadow

    Great post! Very interesting. Im a summer person, especially over winter. So many fun things to do in the summer. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and for the fun hop!
    shadowluvs2read(at)gmail(dot)com

  16. Melisse Aires

    Here in Wyoming midsummer is just on the outer edge of spring, since we have such a long winter. The days and night are just moving toward the heat of summer here, the fields are still green. Later in the summer all the fields will be dry and yellow green. Midsummer is the loveliest time of the year!

  17. raelori

    Great post and an extra woo hoo for Anne M. mention. 🙂 I so would love to hang on that beach. I think I would take the summer over the winter. I can deal with the warm weather better than the cold! 🙂

  18. katsrus

    I live in the midwest-USA and we are enjoying a lot of the sun right now. Although it’s pretty hot. LOL.
    Sue B
    katsrus(at)gmail(dot)com

  19. Artemis

    I live in Greece. We can’t live with our sun. The most days of the year are hot here. So Mid winter sounds pretty cool to me.
    Thank you for the giveaways!
    Artemis

  20. Arlene Webb

    Another great post. I’m learning so much about the solstices on this blog hop. Thank you for sharing.

  21. D L Jackson

    I grew up on a ranch, two hours from the nearest populated area. The skies were amazing, the stars unlike anything I’ve seen since. Unfortuantely where I live now, the city lights compete with natures beauty. I still get out and give them a look, soaking in the view my ancestors worshipped.

    Great post, thanks for sharing,

    Dawn

  22. Doug (@AllanDouglasDgn)

    Mid winter here in Tennessee isn’t bad at all; Greta. In fact we often celebrate at a snow fall because it’s so rare before February. Only once in the 10 years I’ve lived here have we awakened to a White Christmas. Mid-Summer (which we’re enjoying now) used to mean people would complain of the heat if it got into the high 80’s – and it rarely did. The past few years have seen high 90’s and even triple digits.

    It boggles my mind that other parts of the world are experiencing their winter during June, July and August. I am slipping into the lightest slacks I have, tee shirts and wearing a bandana around my forehead to keep the sweat out of my eyes as i work and you’re bundling up against the cold. You’ll be mowing your grass and tending your gardens in December and January while I’m stoking the fireplace trying to keep warm. Amazing!

    1. Greta van der Rol

      “Bundling up against the cold” where I live means maybe wearing shoes, jeans and a sweat shirt. I have a leather jacket that gets dragged out when I go overseas, or maybe south to Melbourne. I never wear it here.

      You know, that’s one of the fab things about the internet. You get a glimpse at a different world that’s happening somewhere else, right now. Very philospohical.

  23. A.B. Gayle

    Interesting observation about the winter solstice being more important for many. The thought that the long, freezing winter is one the wane must have been a big relief for them.

  24. fuonlyknew

    I live on the Gulf Coast in Alabama and we also gather for the sunsets. I am a little older now and appreciate the setting of the sun more than the partying. I like closing my eyes and still seeing the beautiful colors behind my eyelids. Happy Winter Solstice and heres to a summer one soon!

  25. fremont110293

    I just returned from 3 days in Key West Florida where, year round, people gather in the waterfront area to celebrate the sun setting over the ocean, a rarity on the east coast of the USA. Afterwards restaurants and bars are full of partying people. Yesterday the sun set at 8:32.I spoke to someone who lived there all year round, and she told me that in December when the sun sets at 5, it makes for an early dinner and a long night of partying.
    On another note – This is a dumb question, I know, but if it’s winter for you, did you still call yesterday “summer” solstice?

    1. Greta van der Rol

      I understand about the sun setting into the sea. That photo on my blog was a sunrise, actually. We’re on the east coast of Oz. And no, we celebrate the winter solstice at this time of year. Yay, the days are getting longer again. Not that they were very short to start with, you understand.

      Thanks for commenting.

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