Long ago, people thought that the earth was flat. Now nearly everyone has figured out that the earth is round and circles the sun.
But the earth is tilted, so that half of the year the northern hemisphere is pointed toward the sun and half of the year the southern hemisphere is pointed toward the sun. Not surprisingly,
the half of the earth that is tilted toward the sun warms up. The point at which half the earth is tilted closest to the sun is called the summer solstice. This is the official beginning of summer.
In the northern hemisphere, this occurs around June 21. This day is the longest of the year, and the night is the shortest. It is sometimes called Midsummerís Eve, even though it falls at the
beginning of summer, because it comes in the middle of the growing season. After this date, the nights start getting longer, and the days start getting shorter.
This day was widely celebrated, especially in ancient Europe. People hoped that the proper actions at the beginning of the summer and the growing season would guarantee a good
harvest in the fall. One common way to celebrate was to light bonfires to make the short night even brighter. In our industrial society, fewer people are worried about the effects of the
weather on their garden, but summer still brings many welcome changes: warm weather, baseball, swimming, and summer vacation. Mrs. Muddle celebrates the beginning of summer and the
return of warm weather each year by running through her sprinkler.