Summer Celebrations Around the World
Midsummer — Sweden
When: usually between 19 and 25 June
Dancing, drinking, feasting, and an endless supply of daylight: what is there not to like about Midsummer in Sweden? Traditionally celebrated on the day of St. John the Baptist, this summer solstice festival brings friends and families, young and old, together to observe the longest day of the year.
Midsommarafton (Midsummer’s Eve) is all about celebration; with wreaths of wildflowers on their heads, everybody dances around the maypole and sings traditional songs until sunset. If all this makes you hungry, there is plenty of herring, salmon, potatoes, meatballs, and strawberries to feast on, whilst enjoying a shot of schnapps with old (and new) friends. According to a popular Swedish legend, you should place your flower crown (also known as krans) under your pillow that night to dream about your future lover!
Independence Day (Fourth of July) - United States
When: 4 July
With over 16,000 fireworks lit up on this day, the US celebrates its birthday as an independent nation. Since this is the largest national holiday in the US, millions of Americans mark the occasion across the states with the Star Spangled Banner (national anthem), flags, fireworks, parties and parades… and last but not least, delicious food. From ice cream and barbeques, to hot dog eating contests — friends and families enjoy sharing this holiday to celebrate independence. In fact, 150 million hot dogs are consumed each Fourth of July weekend. If that wasn’t enough, this holiday is also the number one top beer-drinking event of the year, with over one billion dollars spent on beer. For those who prefer to sit back and enjoy the parades, and fireworks display, Bristol Harbor in Rhode Island might just be the perfect spot to curl up under the spectacular lights.
O-bon — Japan
When: 13 –15 August
This Japanese-Buddhist custom is one of the most important traditions of Japanese culture. It is believed that during O-bon, spirits return to their homes to be reunited with their families, who light up paper lanterns inside their houses as a way to call their ancestors’ spirits back home. During this three-day festival, flowers and lanterns are displayed, incense is burned, and dances are performed to the rhythm of the drums (Bon Odori). The festival comes to an end on the third day of O-bon, when five giant bonfires are lit up in the mountains surrounding the city (Daimoniji) and the lanterns are released into the sky (Toro nagashi). Inside each toro nagashi is a candle that will eventually burn out, resulting in the lantern to float down the river and into the ocean — this tradition symbolizes the return of the spirits to the spirit world and is done send off their ancestors’ spirit in a beautiful way.
La Tomatina — Spain
When: Last Wednesday of August
While another food festival in summer may come as no surprise, La Tomatina is no ordinary event. With thousands of tomato enthusiasts pelting each other with around 150,000 over-ripe tomatoes, this Spanish festival proudly holds the title of the largest food fight in the world. Despite being a relatively new tradition, over 17,000 tourists and 5,000 locals travel to the small village of Bunyol (Valencia) every year to experience this crazy and messy event. Although no one knows the origin of this event, it is believed that youngsters launched tomatoes to the typical Valencian giant figures (Gigantes y Cabezudos) during a parade, which sparked a street food-brawl back in 1945. Once the fight ends, fire-fighters wash the streets and people down with hoses — surprisingly, the acidity of the tomatoes act as a disinfectant, leaving the streets fresh and clean!
FIFA World Cup
When: Every four years between June and July
Possibly the most highly anticipated event for millions of avid football fans, the World Cup commences after a long four-year build-up. With 2018’s cup taking place in Russia, 32 nations compete in 64 matches, in 11 host cities across four times zones. A staggering 3.5 billion people around the world watched the World Cup in Brazil back in 2014, making it the most viewed sporting event in history.
Across World Cup history, players have become football legends, such as Argentina’s Maradona and his famous “Hand of God” or Spain’s Iniesta who scored the winning goal in the last minutes of the World Cup 2010 final. From fanatical fans to exhilarating moments in football history, we can’t wait to see what the World Cup will provide us In the future.