Happy Summer Solstice Day! Are you joining the celebration today? The summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, is known as “midsummer” or St. John’s Day in certain parts of the world, and it’s a day to celebrate. We’ve already dedicated a blog post to the science of the equinoxes and solstices, so we thought that we’d dedicate some time to the human side of the sun: summer solstice celebrations near and far. We hope this will inspire some new adventures for you!
Revel in Mystery
One of the most famous and mysterious sites on the planet is Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. The prehistoric site, a major tourist destination, is still shrouded in a lot of mystery, as researchers still can’t precisely explain its purpose. One thing we do know is that the stones seemed to be aligned to the solstices, with the sun reaching the middle of the stones only on the Summer Solstice day. However, opinion is mixed as to whether or not that means it was built specifically to worship the sun and its movement.
Either way, it’s a place to behold and, if you are in a traveling mood, it’s a place for you to visit and explore. A visitor’s center, café, tour and other helpful resources are available to those who make the trip. It’s obviously crowded on Summer Solstice day, but if you believe The Telegraph, the best time to visit may actually be during the winter.
Light up the Night
Alpine nations like Austria are known to light fires in the mountains on Midsummer day to maintain the traditions of their ancestors. People of other European traditions light bonefires to keep the shorter, darker days from returning. In Spain, bonfires burn in honor of St. John the Baptist as part of a host of midsummer celebrations. Want to get in on that kind of celebration right here in New England? Rhode Island’s famous WaterFire will have a full lighting in Providence this weekend. Stoke the flames, listen to music, celebrate the season and hold back the winter!
Dance Like the Sun Won’t Set
Midsummer festivals in Sweden often involve a Maypole, a tall poll erected and decorated with greenery and flowers. People dance with and around the pole during the Midsummer festival. The festival also includes games and family fun, with great food as well.
Dancing in the company of others isn’t just a Swedish tradition. Midsummer festivals around the world involve dancing. Iceland hosts a three-day music festival around the solstice in celebration of the sun practically not setting for the three days around the solstice. Ontario, Canada hosts its annual Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival during this time, celebrating the art, culture and history of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
Sample a Bit from the Melting Pot
Even Harvard gets in on the midsummer celebrations by offering free programing and entertainment at the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture on solstice day. From 5 to 9pm today, the museum is offering free admission into the museum as well as performances, music and activities for all ages recognizing a myriad of cultures and traditions surrounding the solstice. Food trucks will be around, not to mention plenty of yummy offerings in and around Harvard Square. If you are looking for a good, local way to celebrate the longest day of the year, that may be a good place to go! Take the red line to Harvard Square, walk through The Yard and head to 11 Divinity Avenue for the festivities.
Near or far, this year or next, take part in a Midsummer tradition! The sun is wonderful all on its own, but to be able to celebrate its cycle with community is even better. Who knows where your wanderings and adventures will take you?
Share some of your own celebrations with us on Facebook! We want to know what the longest day of the year means to you!
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