05 May 2009

Celtic Summer

It always seemed strange to me that we marked the start of summer on the solstice--the longest day. After that point, the days get shorter. The Celts reckoned the solstice as mid-summer. Day length increases once you are past the equinox. At some point you get to say "summer is starting." The logical spot would be halfway from the equinox to the solstice--the so-called cross-quarter day. If the orbit of the earth around the sun is a circle, and it damn near is, it can be cut into quadrants. Summer Solstice to Autumnal Equinox to Vernal Equinox to Summer Solstice--four big pieces of pie. Cut those pieces in half and you get eight parts. Those four new dividing lines are the "cross-quarter" days because they cut the quarter-parts in two. Lammas, or Lughnasa, is the first, coming halfway between the June solstice and the September equinox. Then we have Hallowe'en, or Samhain, between the equinox and the December solstice. Imbolc, or Groundhog Day, splits the solstice from the Vernal Equinox. Now we have reached the next spot, halfway to Midsummer (the solstice). We call it Beltane or May Day. This year, according to those who know, the cross-quarter day, the first of the Celtic summer, is today. May 5th. Cinco de Mayo.

Happy summer!

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