“Happy Longest Day of The Year” Day

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June 21st 2013 celebrates the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year. It also marks the beginning of summer for those in the northern hemisphere. Here’s some information on the event and a few fun things that you can do to honour the occasion!

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two solstices per year- the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. A solstice is an astronomical phenomenon, whereby the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky relative to the celestial equator. The term comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

The Summer Solstice takes place during a hemisphere’s summer, which means that Europe, North America, Asia and parts of Africa celebrate the occasion between the 20th and 22nd of June, while those in Australia, South America and Antarctica mark their Summer Solstice between the 20th and 23rd of December each year.

It is also referred to as the longest day of the year (for those in the northern hemisphere), as the event occurs on the day which has the longest period of daylight. For those south of the equator it is simultaneously the shortest day of the year with the least sunlight.

For those of us who thought that winter would never end, June 21st marks a special day: the start of summer! So, as a way to celebrate the date, we’ve compiled a short list of some fun things to do this Summer Solstice. See how many you will do and remember to enjoy the extra daylight (and sunshine!)

1. Cook outside / BBQ

2. Plant a tree

3. Go camping

4. Make a birdfeeder

5. Go swimming

6. Sit outside and read a book

7. Fly a kite

8. Eat some ice-cream

9. Take a trek up a hill / mountain

10. Watch the sun set

A reason to smile

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Today, March 20th 2013, is the first International Day of Happiness as declared by the United Nations (UN). A day of happiness sounds like a great idea, so let’s find out where this notion came from and what it means exactly.
Where it all began: in Bhutan. Haven’t heard of it? It’s a tiny state located in South Asia. In 2005, Bhutan began building the world’s first Gross National Happiness Index- a means of measuring well-being through aspects such as life satisfaction, emotions, spirituality, health, education and ecological diversity. By 2010, 41% of people surveyed in Bhutan ranked as “happy”, based on factors like work, literacy and housing. A year later the nation sponsored “Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development”, which stated that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and economic growth should promote sustainable development, but that worldwide happiness is reliant on social and environmental well-being as well.
Aim: what the UN hopes to achieve with its International Day of Happiness is to illustrate that happiness is essential for global progression. A society which adopts a more holistic outlook, and which realizes that its development is not solely based on material wealth, is likely to be “happier”. The UN also hopes to encourage countries to approach public policies in a more comprehensive manner, e.g. Italy is using online consultations with citizens to help judge the country’s well-being, which includes specific indicators such as “quality of urban air”.
So take a moment to smile today, because the world is literally becoming a better and happier place! 🙂