The summer solstice as it is referred to is the date with the longest period of light and the shortest night in the northern hemisphere. It is celebrated throughout the world and even considered to have “mystical influences”.
Excepting the Earth’s polar regions, which have constant sunlight for months at a time , midsummer is the longest period of daylight in the year.
This event happens because of the Earth’s Axis tilt in relation to the sun. It happens in both the north and the south hemisphere’s but at opposite times, since northern and southern summers are reversed.
The winter solstice happens when the Earth’s Axis is in the opposite part of its orbit around the sun, and means that it is the longest night of the year with the shortest amount of light in the same day.
In Europe the summer solstice is widely celebrated with events taking place continent wide, like the “druidic” celebrations at Stonehenge in England and traditions such as “eating all day” in Sweden.
In ancient cultures the summer solstice was a symbol of fertility, crop harvests and celebrated as such.
In England, there are many “pagan” and “druidic” celebrations especially at Stonehenge and around other ancient ruins.
In the U.S. it used to be widely celebrated by hippies, and traditions of honoring the environment, peace, and positive feeling towards each other still continue in smaller gatherings.
In Austria there is a procession of ships down the Danube river and people light mountain fires, a tradition dating back to the Dark Ages.
In New York it is celebrated as “International Day of Yoga” with related events lasting from sunrise to sunset in Times Square.
In Eastern Orthodox countries like Bulgaria and Serbia the summer solstice coincides with the day of John The Baptist.
In Denmark, people make light beach bonfires on the night befoure.
In Hungary people celebrate St Ivan’s Day with girls jumping over small fires while boys watch the spectacle.
In Slavic countries including Russia it is called Kupala Night and it is celebrated by jumping over fires and other bravery related rituals.
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