Next week is the official beginning of summer, which falls on June 20, 2016. This day is also known as the summer solstice, which is a big deal in a lot of countries. Dating back to the days before Christianity, people celebrated this time of year as the beginning of warmer weather, the start of the harvest season (or at least a day to recognize it), and the longest day of the year — which, for places in the Arctic Circle, can mean 24 hours of nonstop sunlight. Thus, celebrations involving song, dance, food, and a number of rituals and activities occur at this time of year. Since these festivities are so steeped in tradition and ingrained in cultures, when Christianity first became a major world religion, it adopted a lot of these various holidays (they can differ from country to country) to make the transition easier on locals.
You might notice one thing about the countries and regions mentioned in this article: none of them are located below the equator. This is due to the fact that June marks the beginning of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and thus the respective traditions are quite different. (Speaking of differences, we attempted to include as many different types of activities as possible, so similar events in separate countries were omitted or combined, where appropriate.)
Please also keep in mind that the exact start of the summer varies from year to year, falling anywhere between June 20 and 22, so we didn’t use exact dates here. Additionally, the exact dates of these festivals and celebrations don’t always occur right on the solstice, so this is another constantly-changing variable. The other details are thankfully consistent, which means you can expect similar events each year in each of these places. With that, here are eight wild ways the summer solstice is celebrated around the world.