Science: It’s going to be the usual demonstration with the Earth as a tennis ball or marble and the Sun as a football or gym ball. You know the drill. The sun is at its most northern point from the equator. The most northern parts of the earth have their longest day – in the Arctic the sun never sets; the southernmost parts have their longest night – in the Antarctic the sun never appears.
Activities: Build a Stonehenge (or just visit it, if you’re near).
Native Americans put teepees in a circle to symbolise the cosmos on the solstice – that might be fun too if you have a lot of spare bedsheets.
In Northern Europe, the Solstice is a big deal and a good excuse for a party.
- Bonfires (and jumping over bonfires),
- visiting and decorating wishing wells,
- gathering herbs because they are especially potent.
- Austria has a spectacular procession of ships;
- Brazil’s Festa Junina involves a lot of dancing quadrilles;
- Sweden gets out a maypole (in June?);
- in medieval times the French celebrated with a cat-burning ritual;
- in Jersey they banged a brass pan to ward off evil, and we all know a tiny bairn who would enjoy doing that.
- Hunting for magic fern blossom;
- washing the face with morning dew to be beautiful all year;
- making flower wreaths and throwing them on lakes;
- balancing an egg at the exact moment of the solstice … oh, there are lots more ideas here and here.
Greenland National Day
Greenland was so named by Erik the Red, a Norwegian exiled from Iceland, who hoped the name would attract other settlers and he wouldn’t be so lonely. Actual Greenlanders call their country Kalaallit Nunaat, meaning land of the Kalaallit people.
At first Greenland was inhabited by stone-age Eskimos in 2,500 B.C.
In 986 Erik the Red arrived with other settlers. These Norwegians accepted Danish rule when Norway and Denmark formed the Kalmar Union. It was a hard place to live – very cold!
From 1300 Thule people arrived from Alaska, bring dog sleds and whale harpoons.
Even though by the 18th century all the Norse people had long since died and actually Europe hadn’t had any contact with Greenland for centuries, when it was rediscovered Denmark was like, “IT’S STILL OURS BY THE WAY.”
In WWII Denmark was taken over by Nazi Germany, and America occupied Greenland to protect it. In the 1950s America built a big army base there as part of the Cold War defence.
In 2009 Greenland gained self-rule, while Denmark controls its foreign affairs and defence. Denmark also pays them 3.2 billion kroner a year for welfare and investment.
Greenland’s Inuit people catch around 175 whales a year. It has polar bears, Arctic foxes and hares, and seals. There are only about 56,000 humans, and as Greenland is the world’s biggest island it is also the least densely populated country in the world.
Greenland’s traditional sport is Arctic Sports, a kind of wrestling; they also love handball.
The French West Indies/Antilles honour the French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher’s achievements in helping end slavery with a sailboat race, fireworks, music, etc.
Togo Day of the Martyrs: Togo gained independence from France in 1960. They have mainly animistic beliefs, carve beautiful statuettes (Google Ewe or ibeji) and make beautiful batiks, which could be fun to do.
Bolivian New Year! and We Tripantu (Mapuche New Year, Chile)
New Hampshire founded 1788
Go Skateboarding Day
International Surfing Day
National Aboriginal Day (Canada celebrates the Inuit and Métis and First Nations)
World Music Day