There is something quite wonderful about the summer solstice and the way it is widely celebrated around the globe. Just like the spring equinox, it marks the official beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere countries and brings in some much-needed extra hours of daylight.
‘Midsummer’ or ‘Litha’ is celebrated every June in the northern hemisphere, reminding us to rejoice in the energy of the sun and to celebrate the light in our lives and in ourselves.
Here are five wonderful traditions from all around the world to inspire you to enjoy the longest day of the year.
Sweden: Dance and play in the sun
‘Midsommar’ is a national holiday that is celebrated every year in Sweden. People gather to celebrate under the sun with groovy music, delicious food and vibrant colours. Girls wear breezy white summer dresses and dance around colourful maypoles with flower crowns on their heads, making it look like a scene from a fairytale movie.
During midsommar, people of all ages and play fun games that leave everybody in a great mood.
England: Sun salutations at Stonehenge
The fascinating ancient stone circle has been intriguing historians and scientists for centuries. The stone circle is perfectly aligned with the rising and setting sun on the summer solstice which is thought to have been celebrated here for thousands of years. In fact, the celebration of the summer solstice may have been the motivation behind the construction of Stonehenge, which makes visiting it on this day even more special.
Cairo: Watch a spectacular sunset
On the summer solstice, the city of Cairo in Egypt witnesses a spectacular sunset between its two main pyramids. Not only that, but if you stand near the Sphinx during the solstice sunset, the silhouette of the setting sun between the two pyramids resembles the hieroglyph for "horizon." There is no way to know for certain, but it is believed that the ancient Egyptians purposefully aligned the pyramids with the sun. Nevertheless, the view is absolutely breathtaking and worth the visit.
India: Welcome the sun
In India, people gather at dawn for mass yoga sessions to greet the solstice sun. It's a tradition based on the belief that Adiyogi (the first yogi) met his disciples on the summer solstice. His disciples would help him spread the practice of yoga throughout the world. Summer solstice mass yoga events, take place in cities across the country and are attended by thousands of people. What a zen way to celebrate the solstice!
Eastern Europe: Test your bravery
Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics and other Eastern European countries celebrate the summer solstice on Ivan Kupala, an ancient celebration focused on love, romance and thousands of years of Slavic fertility rites. Jumping over bonfires is a popular tradition in those countries as it is a way for young people to test their bravery and for couples to test their compatibility by jumping over a bonfire.
If you are looking to celebrate solstice while getting a rush of adrenaline, Eastern Europe is the ideal destination for you!