Cultures around the globe have rejoiced in the bounty of summer since ancient times. Although many of these celebrations have changed shape in our contemporary era, the original sense of appreciation for nature’s offerings continues. Festive days and action-packed evenings are the hallmark of these exciting international celebrations below:
Latvia – Jāņi Festival
This ancient celebration persists today, celebrated toward the end of June to beckon in the summer season. Jāņi original arose as a fertility celebration wherein locals visited farms and sang traditional songs, with the hopes of showering luck upon the growing grass. These days, the songs of Jāņi continue, as people head to the countryside, decked out in wreaths, immersing themselves in the abundance of the outdoors. Contemporary celebrations also take advantage of the festive mood with high-energy festivities that run late into the night. A favored food on this holiday is a mild, sour caraway seed cheese.
Austria – Mountaintop Bonfires
The ancients alighted massive conflagrations on the peaks of the Alpine region to mark the solstice. These fires would rage, visible from all sides as the daylight lingered onward for hours. Two centuries ago, the tradition turned; now, the fires are lit ten days after the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi. Brave teams haul stacks of wood or outdoor candles up the mountainsides, facing any unexpected weather conditions with a determination to keep the tradition going. Many in the region enjoy a vacation day following the nighttime bonfires, as they help to organize the Sacred Heart Festivals taking place the next day. Traditional attire includes wide-brimmed hats and striking burgundy-colored coats for the men.
Canada – Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival
This colorful and exciting celebration is an annual event held on the traditional land of the Algonquins, for Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Over 40,000 people typically arrive on the scene to recognize the contributions of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples. Food is a centerpiece of the event, with a culinary competition and a pavilion that offers up samples. A Pow Wow at this festival ushers in the warmer weather with a visual feast of dancers in full traditional costume. The drum contest at the Pow Wow is epic, with those of different age categories competing to win the grand prize for their powerful and immersive rhythms.
Russia – White Nights Festival
St. Petersburg relishes in an extended season of daylight, with a latitude that tilts favorably toward the sun during the start of the summer season. The skies are aglow during these “white nights,” and visitors appreciate this striking natural backdrop for a major series of cultural events. A special in-demand series of classical ballet and operatic performances sells out way in advance, as locals and visitors snatch up tickets to participate in the excitement. Events are held throughout the region, as St. Petersburg’s Palace Square transforms into a performance space for popular contemporary musicians. Separately, old carriages ride around Peterhof park during carnival celebrations that feature actors dressed in period costumes to represent various eras.
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About the author:
Danielle Martin has taught multiple subjects to students in three different states. She previously spent time as a literary agent’s assistant and video editor. Danielle writes about education, health, and lifestyle topics, and she also enjoys writing fiction.