The summer solstice, the longest daylight of the year, is coming up on Tuesday. Our calendars mark it as the beginning of summer, no matter that we’ve been suffering from the heat for weeks already. Still, the solstice is referred to as midsummer in many cultures, and it’s celebrated somewhat like the winter solstice and the two equinoxes, particularly in northern European countries where even in June it’s not too torridly hot to enjoy a bonfire. In some countries it’s an official holiday, and many stage celebrations on the nearest weekend for convenience. There are places with additional traditions, like the lore that says Icelandic cows can talk and people in Slovenia can understand what animals say. Bulgarians celebrate by walking on hot embers. And many places celebrate the solstice as St. John the Baptist Day, as another example of the Christian church rebranding pagan holidays. Read a roundup of ten midsummer celebrations at Mental Floss.
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