The summer solstice which falls on 21 June, is also known as midsummer and is the longest day and the shortest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also said to be the official start of Summer. However, that’s not all 21 June or Midsummer as they call it is one of the most celebrated and spiritual evenings around the globe. Midsummer is also a time rich in romantic rituals.
What Does Legend Say?
Legend has it, that on this day, silently gathering nine kinds of flowers and placing them under a pillow is supposed to reveal in dreams the identity of the person one will marry! The day has long been associated with marriages and the honeymoon to follow! The day is also said to be the protector of lovers and herbs, and it is said that flowers harvested on Midsummer Day have magical qualities. While specially gathered fern seeds were believed to make people invisible and guide them to buried treasure, and wreaths and garlands of flowers worn on this day were believed to bring health and ward off evil. Jumping over the bonfire on this day is said to ensure youth and fertility and also a purification rite.
One of the largest solstice celebrations in the world takes place at Stonehenge, in England. People gather here in huge numbers each year to bring in the summer season. The day is treated like the ultimate marriage ceremony. They also celebrate the union of the male and female deities. Even today, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to celebrate the solstice, since they believe the mysterious monument was part of ancient solstice celebrations.
There are many interesting traditions followed on this day in different parts of the world.
UK & Ireland; The Country In Which Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Is Based
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Besides Stonehenge where many druids and pagans come to celebrate this day, the country in which Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is based, has some typical summer solstice celebrations. The day is focused on fairies, unicorns, and other mystical creatures. They have processions and plays and the day ends with bonfires.
U.S.A; Celebrates By Doing Yoga!
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Even though U.S.A has many different summer solstice celebrations every year. A day-long yoga event at Times Square sees hundreds of yoga enthusiasts join together for yoga.
Spain; Bonfires And Firework Displays Mark The Day
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In Spain, Andorra, and France, Midsummer in that region is tied to feelings of belonging, and also marks a transition into adulthood for many adolescents. Spain celebrates a mix of both the Christian culture and pagan ritual.
Sweden; It’s Baby Boom Time!
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The solstice is also linked to fertility and a lot of children are said to be born nine months after Midsummer in Sweden! The people of Sweden also enjoy traditional foods such as salmon, pickled herring, and potatoes and do the maypole dance along with folk dances with flower-wreaths around their heads.
China; The Most Controversial Dog Meat Festival
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China has the most controversial Midsummer tradition/festival of all; the Dog Meat Festival, which is also known as the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. The festival is held annually in Guangxi, though it’s sparked an outrage and set to be banned. Besides that, they also hold the dragon boat races in Shaoxing, Zhejiang.
While for some, the day is just an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. But whether or not you’re celebrating, make sure you go out only after you’ve applied a whole lot of sunscreen today. Also look forward to shorter days and longer nights from this day on! (Yipeeee!… More sleep!)