Bodhi Celebrates

8 Ways the World Celebrates the Summer Solstice

Published on June 12, 2017

Article by Justine Amodeo for Bodhi Tree

In the Northern Hemisphere, June 21 is the first day of summer, the day the sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky and appears to stand still at the Tropic of Cancer before reversing direction. To many, the summer solstice represents new beginnings and celebrates the fertility of the Earth, acknowledged worldwide with ancient customs, ritual dances and festive celebrations. Here are some of our favorites:

8 Summer Solstice Celebrations Around the World

1. 9th Annual Stonehenge Summer Solstice Festival

This four-day camping and live-music event takes place June 18–21 in Amesbury, England, where the solstice draws international revelers who come to witness the sun rising above a stone circle that’s perfectly aligned with the summer solstice sunrise. There, drummers fill the space with tribal beats; neo-pagans and druids in white robes conduct ancient rites in spontaneous circles; and visitors, during one of the few times permission is granted to touch the stones, can feel the spiritual force of the sacred “sun stone.”

2. Solstice in Times Square

New York City celebrates International Yoga Day as well as the beginning of summer with a daylong yoga event, now in its 15th year, which begins at 7am and continues until sunset. Thousands of yogis from around the world travel to Times Square to practice sun salutations and participate in free yoga and meditation classes, including one that continues all day long. If you can’t get there, you can participate remotely by live satellite.

3. Festival of Saint John in Porto, Portugal

For 600 years, June 23 has been dedicated to the Festival of Saint John in Porto, Portugal, a festival of John the Baptist but also a re-creation of an ancient pagan courting ritual worshiping the sun and fire on the summer solstice. The ritual? Beating the one you love with plastic hammers, leeks and cloves of garlic. Thousands gather for a street festival of car rallies, dancing and noshing on Portuguese donuts and barbequed sardines late into the night, culminating at midnight with fireworks along the Douro River.

4. Secret Solstice 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland

The Foo Fighters, Chaka Khan and UK’s The Prodigy are among the lineup at this year’s Secret Solstice 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland, a three-day music festival taking place June 15–18 that makes good use of the extra daylight this time of year—72 hours to be exact. Revelers can dance to hip-hop, reggae, electronic music and more while trying to melt the ice at the world’s only party inside a glacier, then warm up by venturing into the magma chamber of a volcano for more live performances.

5. The Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Celebration

This Santa Barbara, California, celebration began in 1974 and has evolved into the largest arts event and parade in the county. The festival takes place on June 23–25 and the parade is held at noon on Saturday, June 24, drawing crowds of over 100,000 spectators from around the world who enjoy the colorful floats, giant puppets, whimsical costumes and masks of parade participants who dance, sing, drum and perform. This year’s parade theme is Celebrating Unity, and in Alameda Park, a large drum circle will beat throughout the day and live world and techno music will keep the crowd dancing until the sun sets.

6. Solstice Fires in Tyrol, Austria

Since the Middle Ages, different Tyrolean towns and villages have lit Solstice Fires in Tyrol, Austria on June 21, a tradition dating back to medieval times, when native tribes used the mystical fires to worship the earth. After sunset throughout Austria, fires dot the mountains and countryside, cable cars shuttle partygoers to events in various mountain towns throughout the night, and celebrations, including a music and culinary festival in Innsbruck and a cruise on Lake Achensee, take place throughout the Alpine towns.

7. Midsummer in Sweden

Sweden’s Midsummer—or midsommar—takes place across the country, beginning on Midsummer’s Eve, this year June 23 (it’s always on the Friday closest to the summer solstice), where residents flee to the flower-filled countryside to build wildflower wreaths and dance around a blooming maypole. Swedish Midsummer traditions stem from pagan sun-worshiping cultures where revelers continue to eat pickled herring and boiled potatoes, drink spiced schnapps and dance and sing. According to legend, the night before Midsummer’s Day is a magical time for love, so on their way home, girls and young women are encouraged to pick seven different species of flowers to place under their pillows, and wait for a dream where their future husbands will appear to them.

8. Downtown Summer Solstice Festival in Anchorage, Alaska

In Anchorage, where daylight on the summer solstice lasts for 22 hours, downtown businesses organize the Downtown Summer Solstice Festival, an all-day event that takes place on June 17 from 12–6pm that includes an art fair, chainsaw artists, live jazz concerts, roller derby, a Taste of Anchorage food court, and a Hero Games skills competition between firefighters, law enforcement personnel and military members.

Published on: June 12, 2017

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