The first day of summer, also known as the summer solstice, is the day when the sun rises to its highest point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. The summer solstice is a celebration of sun and light, but misconceptions and superstitions abound. ABC News sets us straight on the four most common myths about the summer solstice.
Myth 1: The seasons change because of the Earth’s distance from the sun
Wrong! Since the Earth rotates around the sun in an almost circular orbit, the distance between the sun and the Earth really doesn’t change all that much. Astronomer Larry Ciupik at the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago told ABC News that in 2011, the Earth was closest to the sun on January 3 and will be furthest away on July 4. “So the distance effect isn’t the reason for the summer or season change; they change because the Earth is tilted,” he said. That is, in the summer, the Earth is tilted toward the sun, while in the winter, it’s tilted away from it.
Myth 2: Summer Solstice is the hottest day of the year
Wrong! Just because the sun’s rays are hitting the Earth more directly doesn’t mean the summer solstice will be the hottest day of the year. After all, it takes time for the Earth to heat up. The summer solstice brings the most light to the Earth, not the greatest heat. Wait until August for that.
Myth 3: During the solstice you can balance eggs upright on a table
Wrong! One of the biggest superstitions of the summer solstice concerns eggs. The superstition holds that since the Earth’s axis is somehow shifting, on this one day of the year, it’s possible to balance an egg upright on a flat surface. If you do it right, you can easily balance eggs upright on a table any day of the year, says Ciupik.
Myth 4: Druids celebrate summer solstice because they are worshipping the sun
Wrong! Modern-day Druids are not sun-worshippers. Rather, they celebrate the summer solstice as a way to celebrate light. “We’re celebrating the very necessity of having that light to keep things going,” Druid John Matthews, a historian who wrote the book “Summer Solstice: Celebrating the Journey of the Sun From May Day to Harvest,” told ABC News. While ancient Druids believed in the sanctity of the sun and worshipped it, modern Druids appreciate the sun as the Earth’s source of light, food, energy and health.