The longest day of the year heralds the official start of summer in the northern hemisphere. In my homeland of Sweden, the Solstice is celebrated by dancing around mid-summer poles, women and girls wearing wreaths of flowers in their hair, feasting on wild strawberries, the lighting of giant bonfires and with a great deal of vodka (apologies to my Russian friends, it’s our national spirit). It is a joyous, carefree holiday. When you ask Swedish expats what they miss most, they’ll either mention the Solstice or the obligatory August crayfish party held in every household. Both involve … vodka.
Partying aside, the Solstice is also a deeply spiritual event in many cultures for thousands of years. Now, I’m the resident hippie here at the Kimpton home office so I’ll enjoy finding some spiritual symbolism on any old Tuesday but this one is legit and time tested. Historically a European tradition, the ancient Egyptians themselves tracked and celebrated the rise of the star Sirius (coinciding with the Solstice), marking the arrival of a new year and the annual flooding of the Nile. Related celebrations can be found all the way over in Brazil, where they celebrate with square dancing (or Quadrilha) with an occasional Maypole.
We certainly love our reasons to party in the U.S., so why not celebrate something as kick ass as the official arrival of summer? Maybe clues can be found in its Pagan roots, maybe the lighting of giant bonfires freaked out local leaders … who knows why the holiday didn’t take root here. That said, here are some ways you can still celebrate the Summer Solstice:
- Throw a killer Solstice cocktail party. I loved this article from Real Simple with some festive ideas. Also be sure to check out our “Outdoor Entertaining” Pinterest board, curated by our very own Kathleen Reidenbach, SVP of Marketing … take it from me, she throws AMAZING parties. Or dust off your costume truck and head to a free-spirited street party like the Fremont Solstice Parade in Seattle, now in its 26th year.
- Plant something! What better occasion than the longest day of the year to take advantage of all that extra sunshine? Even if you’ve never planted a vegetable in your life, you’ll be amazed at how satisfying it is when you see that first fruit crop up. It’ll be the best tomato you ever tasted! Check out some cool ways to fire up the grill from our chefs and bartenders.
- Work up a sweat outdoors. Hike, run, SUP. Yes, you heard right; SUP otherwise known as Stand Up Paddleboarding. Or better yet, I’m going to try SUP Yoga. The idea of folding into downward dog on a surf board has me slightly nervous but the Solstice is inspiring bravery. Later, I’ll enjoy the long bright night by inviting some friends, lighting up the fire pit (it’s not a bonfire but good enough!) and make a batch of refreshing sangria. Long live summer!
Images: Fremont Solstice Parade and SUP – Faith Yi
— Maggie Lang