Summer solstice 2022 and its exquisite events: The White Nights and Sanzienele/Midsummer Day

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The summer solstice takes place in Romania this year on June 21, at 12:14, an astronomical event related to the Earth’s movements of revolution around the Sun and rotation around its own axis. This is when the astronomical summer begins, and people enjoy the time of year with the longest duration of natural sunlight.

In Bucharest, the shortest nights are between June 19 and 24 and will last 8 hours and 28 minutes.

The latest sunset will occur in 2022 between June 24 and July 1, when it will set at 21:04 for Bucharest, according to the calendar published by astro-urseanu.ro. The days when the latest sunset occurs are the same for other regions of the country, only the hours of sunset / sunrise differ slightly.

After the summer solstice, the length of the day illuminated by the Sun begins to decrease, and the length of the night solstice increases, for six months, until December 21, when it is the time of the winter solstice. Between the two solstices there are also moments of the equinox (“echi” means “equal”), that of autumn and spring, respectively, when the day is equal to the night in any place on Earth. Around June 21, the astronomical longitude of the Sun is 90 degrees. The summer solstice (respectively the winter solstice) does not occur every year on the same date and at the same time. In leap years, the summer solstice may occur on June 20.

The “white nights” phenomenon 

The name of the solstice (“the sun stands”) is given by the fact that on that date there is a change in the gradient of the Sun’s motion in relation to its declensions. With the sun at its peak (for the average latitude of our country) at 67 ° 52 ‘above the horizon, the length of the day will have the highest value of the year, respectively 15 hours and 32 minutes, the length of the night being only 8 hours and 28 minutes.

For the same reason, the twilight also has a maximum duration of the year, and at high latitudes (the closer we get to the Pole), the twilight lasts all night, the inhabitants of those regions witnessing the beautiful “white nights”.

Sânzienele, the holiday associated with the summer solstice in Romania

The tradition and superstitions regarding the summer solstice have ancient roots, because the longest day (illuminated by the Sun) of the year is considered a point of balance, crossroads, change, a day of the absolute, inscribed under the sign of fire, which is the symbol of the Sun.

During this period, the feast of Sânzienele/Midsummer Day will take place, somehow associated, in the Romanian folk tradition, with the summer solstice. In the popular calendar, the day of June 24 is known as the day of Sânziene or Drăgaica. Also on June 24, Orthodox Christian believers celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist.

Romanian ancestors used to light the fires for the Midsummer Day on June 21, making paths on the hills near lakes to chase away diseases and troubles. People used to purify animals in the fire, carry lit torches in the fields to remove pests. Moreover, this a good time of the year to start the wedding season.

Midsummer Day (Sanzienele) on June 24 is a pagan tradition that celebrates the sun, nature and fertility.

The Midsummer Day originates in an ancient solar cult during Dacians kingdom. The Roman name, ‘Sanziana’, coming from ‘Sancta Diana’ is still used in Transylvania and the Slavonic one, ‘Dragaica’, is still used in Muntenia and Oltenia.

The legend has it that Sanzienele are beautiful fairies who live in forests or in the fields. They start a round dance called ‘hora’ and give special power to flowers and weeds, turning them into miraculous medicinal plants, good for healing all diseases.

Traditions and superstitions

On the night of June 23, the girls usually put sânziene flowers under the pillow, in the hope that this way they will dream of their bear. Married women wrapped their stockings in sandalwood so that they would not have pain in the field work. Both girls and women put the flower in their hair or breasts to draw attention to their beauty.

‘From the ears of wheat, sânziene and other plants, the girls made wreaths with which they adorned themselves and played the dance of Dragaica. This dance was for abundance, as well as for the protection of households and fields. In the popular tradition, it was believed that, along with the darlings, the sun also played at noon, so he spent more time in the sky than usual.

The omnipotence of the sun at the solstice is celebrated, among the Romanians, by the Sânziene fires, lit on the highest place. Heated with wormwood belts, people spin around the fire, then throw these belts to burn with all possible troubles to come. From time immemorial, the summer solstice has been a great occasion for joy and celebration, being linked to the time of harvest. At first, the celebration coincided with the date of the solstice, June 21. Later, the ceremony being considered by the church as pagan, was moved to June 24 – the day dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

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