Labor Day Weekend is here in the United States and that means summer is unofficially over. Straw Hat weather is still in play though. That is an old fashioned term in which men wore straw hats and summer clothing generally from May 15 to September 15. Then straw hats and summer clothing were put away and warmer winter clothing would be put on. Men were expected, even if it was warm, to wear heavy clothing right up to May 15. Today of course that tradition has faded though the hats remain. If you look back at photographs taken at ball games between 1920-1960, most men wore hats and even ties. My how fashion has changed. Today at most sporting events most wear casual clothing such as caps, jeans, and tee shirts. The only people who are dressed formally are league officials.
Summer of course is the warmest time of the year whether in the north or south hemispheres. Days are longer and when clocks are set an hour ahead, you seem to get more sunlight. It is really an illusion we are giving our ourselves. And once the Summer Solstice has come and gone, there a slow but steady decrease in sunlight. By September those seconds of less sunlight have become minutes. The sun is now setting earlier than it did and with the Autumnal Equinox people who left home at 6:30 am in sunlight will soon be in darkness. The days start to become cooler especially the more farther north you are.
Labor Day Weekend though is the time to have one final blast of summer before autumn and then winter sets in. People go out and enjoy a long weekend. Mostly it is a time to relax, go out and have some fun, and toast the end of summer. Retail stores are already clearing space for Halloween and having sales on summer goods. All the goods to be sold at Christmas are already in transit on ships to arrive at major ports and then transported to distribution centers. For now all that needs to be done is to enjoy this last hurrah of summer. Have a nice weekend everyone.
Today is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. For those below the equatorial line, it is the Winter Solstice. The June Solstice usually takes place between June 20-22. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, it usually is the longest day of sunlight as the North Pole tilts directly towards the sun. Which translates into more sunlight particularly the further north you live. For those more closer to the North Pole (Alaska, parts of Canada, and Scandinavian countries)the sun literally never sets during this time of year. Of course the reverse is true in the Southern Hemisphere. They get less sunlight on the June Solstice and the closer you are to the Antarctic Circle means less sunlight or total night.
The coming of summer is usually a time for celebration in many cultures. Festivals in Northern Europe celebrate summer and the fertility of the Earth. Bonfires are lit and homes are decorated to mark the festival. Many cultures honor the sun in some fashion. Modern day pagans and druids also celebrate the day with their own festivals and many go to Stonehenge in England to witness the first rays of summer.
It is the last day of August and summer vacation comes to a close for many. Labor Day here in the U.S. begins the unofficial demarcation between summer and autumn. And the Autumnal Equinox is not that far off now. Click on the image link for a musical treat.
Due to the Independence Day holiday, I did not post my usual month message. So here it is! July is the 7th month on both Gregorian and Julian calendars, and one of seven months with 31 days. The month was named for Julius Caesar by the Roman senate in recognition for his achievements as a Roman general (this was before he became emperor). June is traditionally known (in the northern hemisphere) as when the dog days of summer begins. Generally that means when it gets real hot and some say sultry. Of course in the southern hemisphere July is in winter.
July’s birthstone is the ruby and there are two flowers (Larkspur and Water Lily).
Most tourists learn quickly that while San Francisco can have nice and sometimes sunny days, that having a sweater or light jacket can come in handy. Especially in the early morning and often in the late afternoon when the fog comes in.
There is a well known saying attributed to Mark Twain that says “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” It sounds like something he might say and if you visit San Francisco one can be astounded how the weather can go from warm and mild to cold and breezy. Except Mark Twain never wrote it. He could have said it and someone wrote it down. People have searched through his writings, public and private, and cannot find he ever said it. He does seem to allude to it at one point when asked about a cold winter, which he replied “last summer” which may refer to San Francisco. How and where it originated is a mystery. Someone might have guessed he thought it and wrote it down and then got repeated.
Source: And Never the Twain Shall Tweet (Snopes.com)
Today is the first day of Summer in the northern hemisphere. For those below the equator, it is the Winter solstice. The Summer solstice day has the longest hours of daylight (above the equator that is). In some places, such as in the Arctic Circle, they get the “midnight sun” during the night. Those who live closer to the Antarctic Circle will not see the sun at all during this time of year. However if you live near the equator, the sun neither shifts up or down so day length does not vary much.
The Summer Solstice officially occurred today at 5:04 hours UT, 1:04 a.m EDT, or if you are on the West Coast at 22:04 PDT. It is an important day on the calendar as it marks an important shift from spring to summer. Ancient times saw the day celebrated with all kinds of rituals to welcome summer. It is the day of the highest sun and the longest daylight hours, but not the hottest day as some used to believe. And it was the time when the growing season for most crops had reached a turning point. National Geographic has a good article here about the 2013 summer solstice.
Today most of us have forgotten the significance it had for our ancestors. Today it is marked as the shift towards a time for vacations, kids to play, and work to be done on homes needing repair. The rituals have changed but the season is a vital part of the year for those who grow our food. Perhaps we ought to be thanking them.