The Summer Solstice is due today, June 21, at 18:54hrs, being the longest day of the year and marking the start of the astronomic summer.
On June 21, the Sun’s astronomical longitude is 90 degrees, the Astronomical Observatory in Bucharest informs, explaining that the solstice (meaning the sun stays) is given by the fact that the gradient of the sun’s move is happening on this day, in relation with its declination. The sun is at its peak point above the horizon of our country and this is why today is the longest day of the year, meaning 15 hours and 32 minutes, while the night has only 8 hours and 28 minutes. For the same reason, the twilight is also the longest of the year, while on the north latitudes the dusk actually takes place all night long. The inhabitants of northern areas can thus witness the so-called “white nights”.
In Romania, the summer solstice has been related to several customs in the local rural traditions. Mainly, it used to be related to the harvest time, while heralding celebrations for the Midsummer Day, known in the Romanian popular name of Sanziene or Dragaica, marked on June 24.
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.