Summer Solstice 2024 and the First Day of Summer: Facts and Folklore

When is the first day of summer and why does it differ each year? Plus see the interesting traditions for this change of seasons!

When Is The First Day Of Summer in 2024?

The first day of summer arrives with the solstice this year on Thursday, June 20, 2024 at 4:51 p.m. EDT.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Earth is tilting mostly toward the Sun. As seen from Earth, the Sun was directly overhead at noon 23.5 degrees north of the equator, at an imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Cancer, named for the constellation Cancer the Crab, its northernmost point. 

Earth chart of Summer and Winter Solstice.

For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, this was the shortest day of the year and the arrival of winter. The solstice happens at the same moment for everyone, everywhere on Earth.

Why Isn’t Summer on the Same Date Every Year?

The timing of the summer solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time. It actually depends on when the Sun reaches that northernmost point from the equator. The summer solstice can occur anywhere between June 20-22.

What Does The Term “Solstice” Mean?

The term “solstice” comes from the Latin words sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). At the solstice, the angle between the Sun’s rays and the plane of the Earth’s equator (called declination) appears to stand still. This phenomenon is most noticeable at the Arctic Circle where the Sun hugs the horizon for a continuous 24 hours, thus the term “Land of the Midnight Sun.” Here’s how it differs from an equinox.

Some people believe that our seasons are caused by the Earth’s changing distance from the Sun. In reality, it is due to the 23-degree tilt of the Earth’s axis that the Sun appears above the horizon for different lengths of time at different seasons. The tilt determines whether the Sun’s rays strike at a low angle or more directly.

Summer Solstice Folklore

The summer solstice has long been celebrated by cultures around the world:

  • In Ancient Egypt, the summer solstice coincided with the rising of the Nile River. As it was crucial to predict this annual flooding, the Egyptian New Year began at this important solstice.
  • In centuries past, the Irish would cut hazel branches on solstice eve to be used in searching for gold, water, and precious jewels.
  • Many European cultures hold what are known as Midsummer celebrations at the solstice, which include gatherings at Stonehenge and the lighting of bonfires on hilltops.

However you are spending your summer this year, just remember, it officially starts on June 20, at the precise moment of 4:51 p.m. EDT.

See what we’re forecasting for summer weather!

Fun fact: Be sure to look at your noontime shadow around the time of the solstice. It will be your shortest noontime shadow of the year!

Beachgoers facing sun with shadows behind them.
Your noontime shadow around the time of the solstice will be your shortest noontime shadow of the year!

What are the Dog Days of Summer?

Summer Weather Hazards – Here’s how to be prepared

When and what is Midsummer?

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Ron Yates

The summer solstice is proclaimed to be the longest day of the year. But if you substract sunrise time from sunset time, the longest day is in a week. Can you explain why it is not today? If you so desire, I can provide the answer.

Rita Hogue

Yes, tell us.

Ron Yates

It has to do with the definition of sunrise and sunset. Sunrise is when the upper edge of the sun appears in the sky. Sunset is when the upper edge of the sun disappears. The time difference does not take into account the width of the sun. I thought this was interesting and I hope you and your followers feel the same. Enjoyed your article. Keep up the great work.


you just used up your 15 minutes of fame on trivialities ..

Sandi Duncan

Here is another interesting article you may find interesting as well – https://www.farmersalmanac.com/latest-sunset-2


Your illustration above with the globes shows the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn much too far from the equator. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the Florida Strait and cuts Mexico about in half. You show it cutting through the southern / mid-southern United States.

Sandi Duncan

Thanks Jonathan, noted and will advise the stock service we got it from.

__ jorge elías correa

jumping in! i noted the equator is shown north of (or perhaps, conversely, the south american continent is shown south of) where it actually sits. the equator cuts trough ecuador (namesake), colombia and brazil. venezuela lies entirely in the northern hemisphere. in this diagram the equator appears to float on the caribbean sea…..

anywhams…. always lovely to read!… 🙂

AH White

Looks like the latitude lines are in the right place, it’s just the images of the continents that are distorted in size. Tierra del Fuego all but hits the south pole – no room for Antartica. Greenland just about extends to the North Pole. The latitude line issue extends from there. Saw this on an image search and was shaking my head, glad I wasn’t the only only bothered.

William Paul Maceri

June is my favorite month of the year.. Today, June 20th, begins the summer solstice at 11:23 pm pst. It is said to be the longest day of the year, but it’s important to understand, that just like every other day of the year there are still only 24 hours on the solstice. Due to the earth tiltIng on its axis, closer to the sun, in the northern hemisphere the sun is visible for more hours, therefore making it lighter for more hours, and that makes the day seem longer. Make sense?


Yes that’s why it’s the longest day of the year, more sun or daylight. I also want to say that the first day of summer is June 21 and not June 20 this year unless you wrote this last year. The first day of summer does not always land on the same day every year. It begins every year between June 20 and June 21. It all depends when the sun is at it’s highest and it’s Northernmost point from the equator.

fun guy



So we’re all googling summer solstice right now

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