Air Date: Week of June 14, 1996
CURWOOD: As long as humanity has wandered the Earth, the sun has inspired a sense of awe and wonder. The summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere, was long celebrated in northern Europe with bonfires that symbolize the warming of the Earth and fertility. In Sweden, a midsummer tree was decorated and people jumped over fires. In Germany couples would leap over fires hand in hand to announce their marriages. Like many other ancient societies, the Natchez Indians worshipped the sun, believing their leader to be descended from it. The Hopi Indians believe that at midsummer the Katsinas, the messengers of the gods, would leave Hopi villages to commune with the dead. Even a comparatively young religion like Christianity uses the longest day to mark the birth of John the Baptist. Jesus had once called John "a burning and shining light," and the early Church said that midsummer fires should represent John. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth almanac.
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