It’s the summer solstice today – the longest (and possibly the hottest) day of the whole year. People all over Europe have celebrated this time of the year for centuries – here’s a brief look at how t ...
It’s the summer solstice today – the longest (and possibly the hottest) day of the whole year. People all over Europe have celebrated this time of the year for centuries – here’s a brief look at how they do it now.
The whole of France from the tiniest village to its mighty capital is filled with performing musicians on the 21st June every year. La Fete de la Musique is a wonderful explosion of sound bringing together all types of music from classical to the latest street phenomenon. It’s fab – u – lus darlings.
In Austria they like to light a mountain bonfire and have a bit of a party.
In fact many north European countries like to celebrate with a bonfire. In Latvia they like to see the men jump over their bonfires while wearing a huge crown of oak leaves to win the admiration of their wildflower crowned queens.
Spain, Portugal & Norway
In fact it’s not just northern countries which like a fire, and a bit of leaping over them, – the festival of St John’s Eve is celebrated around the world on the 23rd June but, while being Christian, has its roots in ancient celebrations related to the summer solstice. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again.
In Iceland they have decided to follow the French and offer a musical smorgasbord at the Secret Solstice Sun Music Festival in Reykjavik. The sun sets at midnight and rises again at 3 am.
Not exactly a national festival but interesting enough to include here – New Yorkers get together in Times Square from 7am onwards to welcome the solstice with open yoga arms. The ultimate sun salute.
And what do we do here in Britain?
Well, we possess the ultimate solstice time machine – Stonehenge.
Photo by Geoff Caddick
Every year around 20,000 people gather around the henge to celebrate together with modern druids and other groups. That’s nice – and quaint – but I would love to see us make this a national day of music and community as they do across The Channel. What do you think?