Scandinavians Celebrate the Start of Their 18-Hour Sunlit Days With Midsummer Fests

Remember as a kid when the last day of school before Summer break was the happiest you've ever felt? Well, the Scandinavian tradition of celebrating the beginning of the best season of all takes place every year on Midsummer's Eve. Adults and children alike gather for the Summer solstice, one of the most important days of the year, and it's like that last-day-of-school feeling for everyone.

Starting in later June, Sweden gets to enjoy days of late sunsets. In fact, on the longest day of the year in Stolkholm, the sun doesn't go down until around 10 p.m. That gives everyone over 18 hours of sunlight! Now, that's definitely something to celebrate, especially after just enduring a dark and cold Winter. Midsummer's Eve is even up there along with Christmas in terms of cherished holidays.

Midsummer was traditionally celebrated on June 24 on the feast day of St. John the Baptist and originated as a pre-Christian solstice festival. Fast-forward to 1952, when the Swedish Parliament decided to always celebrate Midsummer on a weekend, making the date sometime between June 20 and 26.

Midsummer's Eve is mainly celebrated in the countryside and on the day before, businesses close and city streets are emptied. Celebrations focus around maypoles (which you'll see in photos ahead) adorned with greenery and flowers. Maypole dances are the highlight of fests, as well as family meals and sometimes bonfires. Flower crowns (or krans) you probably associate with music festivals today were traditionally worn for good health, as nature was thought to have magical properties. Outside of Sweden, countries like Germany, Finland, and the Ukraine also celebrate the Summer solstice with a Midsummer festival.

See some photos ahead to get an idea!