Is any season more sublime than summer? We don’t think so. Summertime means long days, warm weather, and plenty of opportunities to spend your weekends eating and drinking outside in the park or at the beach. And while we think we do summer pretty well here in the United States with our own beaches, summertime festivals, holidays, and traditions, we have nothing on the rest of the world. There are some summertime celebrations that aren’t known here but should be celebrated.
While we get outside and grill on Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, we have nothing on St. John's Eve, better known as Midsummer in Europe. Though different cultures and countries celebrate this holiday differently, the festivities often include bonfires, flowers, dancing, and plenty of iconic summertime foods.
So this summer, rethink a quiet day indoors or your everyday walk in the park. Take a cue from another culture and go race some boats, throw tomatoes at some friends, or go on a picnic. But do all these things with a twist of inspiration from these summer traditions from around the world that Americans should adopt.
The Duanwu Festival, better known as the Dragon Boat Festival, is a holiday in China honoring loyalty and respect. The best-known aspect of this holiday is the annual dragon boat race. Take inspiration from this ancient festival by renting your own racing boats with friends and getting out in the water for a little competition.
What summer could be complete without some late-night bonfires? In countries like France, Denmark, Croatia, and Ireland, a bonfire plays a huge traditional role. On St. John's Eve, the night before the Summer Solstice which honors St. John the Baptist, massive bonfires are lit to ward off evil. In some countries, young couples will jump over the bonfire as a feat of strength, but we recommend simply roasting s’mores and enjoying a summer night.
What is 22/7? It’s 3.142857. That isn’t pi, but it is pretty close. Hence, July 22 (which in the U.S. is written 7/22 but in much of the world is written 22/7) is considered to be “Pi Approximation Day” around the world. It’s a silly little holiday, but any holiday that’s an excuse to eat the best pies ever (and pies that use summer fruit, like strawberry pie, cherry pie, and blueberry pie) is a great holiday.
In Korea, many believe that a cold shower (or naengsoo machal) conveys numerous health advantages, including improved immunities, muscle recovery, and eliminated stress. In addition to those mind and body benefits, a cold shower could feel really good after a long day at the beach.
While Americans certainly have our fair share of fireworks spectaculars for the Fourth of July, we have nothing on Japan’s Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. Different pyrotechnic companies try to outdo each other, leading to nothing but delights for the one million attendees. Even if you can’t make it to Japan, definitely see your local fireworks show this summer.
Have you ever actually participated in a food fight? Unless you live in a sitcom, the answer is probably no. But at La Tomatina, an August festival held in the Spanish town of Buñol, participants throw tomatoes at one another just for fun. So get outside and throw some fruit at your friends! Just make sure they’re game first.
Around the world, kids are out of school in the summer, and that means one thing: Going to the beach. It’s not a revolutionary concept in America, but laying out on the sand and dipping your toes in the water is time well spent no matter where you are. And while you’re by the ocean, consider hitting up a nearby beach bar.
This international holiday, decreed by the United Nations in 2011, celebrates the many benefits of friendship. This July 30, do something special for your friends and loved ones, whether it’s bringing them some cupcakes, going out to dinner at a fun, casual restaurant, or spending the day enjoying the sunshine in the great outdoors.
While St. John's Eve is celebrated in many countries, in Sweden some have advocated that it be made the official national holiday. Celebrate this June 24 like the Swedes do by decorating with greenery and flowers, dancing around a maypole, and eating herring and potatoes. Then again, maybe just grill some seafood.
On the first Monday in August, the Northern Territory of Australia gets a day off work for Picnic Day, which is exactly what it sounds like: a day off to go on a picnic. In America, we may not get a national holiday for spending time in the park with classic picnic foods, but we definitely recommend getting outside and eating some delicious sandwiches and pasta salads.
You may have read James Joyce’s Ulysses in college, but you have nothing on Dubliners and others who celebrate Bloomsday. On June 16, Joyce enthusiasts dress as characters from the book, read selections from the novel, and visit the James Joyce Tower and Museum. And like any good summer celebration, there’s a pub crawl, so be sure to hit up your local dive.
The best part about summertime is long days, where the sunlight will stretch to 8 or 9 p.m. But have you ever wanted to read a book outside at midnight without the aid of a streetlamp or a flashlight? Then take after St. Petersburg, Russia — which enjoys sunlight all night long during the very middle of summer — and travel to see the midnight sun. In the United States, that means heading up to Alaska around the summer solstice.
small town celebrations and festivals throughout the season. Embrace the summer by going to a festival this year, whether you trek to Bonnaroo or another major music festival, head to something food-centric like the National Cherry Festival in in Traverse City, Michigan, or even just go to a local street fair.
In Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Russia, July 7 is better known as Ivan Kupala Day. Honoring John the Baptist, this celebration is all about mischief and water, and that means one thing: water fights. Break out the water balloons, Super Soakers, and ice-cold buckets and have a great time in the summer heat with some cold, cold H2O.
No matter where you are or how you celebrate the summer, the best part of any seasonal celebration is all the food and drink. The best summer tradition to adopt is your own summer tradition, so get outside and break out the grill for your own summertime meal.
More From The Daily Meal:
The 25 Biggest Summer Health Hazards and How to Avoid Them
Destinations You Should Only Visit in the Summer
50 Affordable Family-Friendly Summer Trips
10 Ways to Have a Great Family Summer Without Going on Vacation
35 Iconic Street Foods Every World Traveler Must Try