bill-swift - June 22, 2012
It's the summer solstice time, or as it is also known, hot as balls day. It's the day at which the Earth's axis rotates to give us the maximum exposure to the sun. It's also the longest day of the year. But it's not just about the rotation of the Earth and sweaty butt cracks. The summer solstice has been celebrated by cultures all over the world for thousands of years. People would thank the gods or whatever for bringing in the harvest and extending daytime. Back in the day it also meant that slaves were forced to work longer hours under brutal heat, but let's focus on the positive. We thought we'd tell you about some of the more interesting ways people have celebrated the summer solstice, (I wonder if my landlord would mind if I lit a bonfire on my fire escape?).
Light The Fires And Kill The King
In the olden days of Europe, the Celts ruled much of the northern parts. These fierce warriors struck terror into their enemies with their painted bodies and ridiculously long swords. Their religion was pretty fierce too. Their priests were known as druids and they did not mess around. The summer solstice was celebrated by lighting huge bonfires out in the woods. Then people would jump over the flames, (these guys wore kilts and no underwear. Talk about singed bagpipes!). Then the druids would crown the harvest king and queen and they would reenact the fertility of the Earth by boning in front of the tribe. Then the druids would kill the king and throw him into a bog. In this case, it is not good to be the king.
Putting On A Bathrobe And Heading To Stonehenge
Of course the druids aren't around anymore, but that doesn't stop people from putting on goofy robes and pretending. Since the mid-70's neo-druids have been gathering for a big festival during the summer solstice at Stonehenge in England. The mysterious stone circle was erected in ancient times for unknown purposes, but it seems that it had to do with measuring time. These new school druids have dispensed with killing people and now just worship the spirits of the Earth. Naturally, this has attracted dirty filthy disgusting hippies. These White kids trying to hurt their poor mothers, have been swarming the festival for the past 10 years turning it into a miniature Burning Man. Take your drum circle somewhere else and wash your pits.
Mayan Pyramids And Shadow Snakes
The Mayans were pretty badass. They had advanced math and science when people in Europe were still eating dirt and burning witches. They also said the world would end this year. The Maya built beautiful stone pyramids and temples in what is today Mexico and Guatemala. One of the most impressive is the massive step pyramid in Chichen-Itza on the Yucatan peninsula. Every year at the summer solstice the Mayans show off the best in Mesoamerican special effects. A giant serpent appears to slither down the steps of the pyramid. As the sun moves in the sky it causes a statue of the feathered serpent god Kukulkan to cast a shadow that undulates down the steps. I wonder if there was a Mayan ILM effects team?
Laugh Though Your Ass Is Sweating
In China the solstice is celebrated to this day. The practices date back thousands of years to the very beginnings of Chinese civilization. The summer is associated with the color red and the south, (the direction not the place full of Larry the Cable Guy fans). They also connect it to the heart. In order to balance the chi energies of the heart it is important to laugh. A lot. The Chinese believe that laughing is good for the heart muscle. They face south, dress in red, and laugh like idiots. All in all it sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a day. Can I do it while drinking lemonade?
Every year in ancient Rome, women would gather at the temple of Vesta during the summer solstice. Vesta was the goddess of the hearth, which was the fireplace where all the cooking and stuff was done. Back then there wasn't any women's lib and this was the domain of the penis challenged. The temple of Vesta was attended by a group of priestesses known as the Vestal Virgins. These ladies tended the sacred fire and didn't engage in any bonage. Think about how hard that would be in ancient Rome. Back then people had sex with whatever had a hole and stood still. Women would ask the virgins to ask Vesta to bless their homes and give them healthy children. Remember, there was no prenatal care back then.
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