Summer Solstice 2020: How Midsummer Is Celebrated Around the World

If you're wondering why the sun was extra bright and early this morning as you woke up, then wonder no more. Today is the longest day of the year.

Also known as the summer solstice, the longest day of daylight falls on Saturday, June 20, 2020. The event also marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere.

Across the world, countries celebrate the day in different ways. So whether you're a fan of music or an olde pagan festival, there will be something for everyone.

United Kingdom

One of the major celebrations of the summer solstice in the U.K. is at World Heritage landmark Stonehenge. Operated by English Heritage, Summer Solstice Managed Open Access is a peaceful celebration of the longest day of the year.

Typically British, it is quiet and reserved, with no alcohol allowed except for ceremonial mead. However, with the coronavirus outbreak this year, people in the U.K. are being urged not to travel to the ancient structure.

Sweden

A celebration second only to Christmas, Midsummer is a big deal for people in Sweden, who take to the countryside and make their own Midsummer flower garland.

This is followed by a lunch of pickled herring with potatoes, dill and chives, drinking nubbe (vodka snaps), and singing a nubbevisor.

Maypoles are then put up and danced around, using dance sequences such as "The Little Frogs," followed by games such as egg and spoon and sack races, a barbecue, and dancing.

Midsummer Eve is also considered a night for romance.

With the pandemic still active across the country, Midsummer is being celebrated virtually, allowing Swedes to continue their tradition without putting lives at risk.

Norway

Every summer solstice, a tall bonfire is created by Slinningsbålet in Ålesund, Norway.

The ritual itself is known as Sankt Hans or Jonsok. It is a Christian celebration with pagan origins held during Midsummer. Norwegians light large bonfires, which were believed to increase the lands' fertility as well as scare off witches who went out to gather herbs for poison. Girls gather seven different flowers and put them under their pillows in order to see their future husbands in a dream, which is similar to traditions in Sweden.

Today, it's mostly for families and friends to gather together and spend a night close to nature.

Spain

While it's celebrated on June 23 and 24 rather than June 21 itself, The Nit De Sant Joan is a Midsummer celebration in Spain. In the Catalan calendar, it marks the summer solstice and the birthdate of Saint John the Baptist in the Christian faith. People in the country watch fireworks displays before Dia de Sant Joan when families gather for a slice of the special cake known as coca de Sant Joan.

China

Falling on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, dragon boat races celebrate the beginning of summer. This year, the holiday falls on June 25, 2020.

The fifth lunar month is considered an unlucky month, in Chinese culture, with people believing that natural disasters and illnesses are common. The Dragon Boat Festival is part of the tradition to ward off bad luck, originating over 2,500 years ago, but it also sees its roots in the death of Qu Yuan, a minister who drowned himself in the Miluo River.

Getty Sweden Midsummer
People erect a maypole for midsummer celebrations in Sahl near Leksand, Sweden, on June 19, 2020. In the small village of Sahl in Dalarna, midsummer is celebrated to a lesser extent and the elderly in the village stay at home or keep a distance due to the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic. ULF PALM/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)