Summer solstice: June 21st is the day of the year on which the sun – in the northern hemisphere of the earth – shines the longest and the night is the shortest. That day is the summer solstice.
This means that from now on the days will get shorter again and the nights longer.
Inclination of the earth’s axis
This is due to the inclination of the earth’s axis. On this graphic you can see where the sun’s rays hit the earth on June 21: the area around the North Pole (1) has sun around the clock. It’s midnight sun. Central Europe (2) is long on the day and short on the night side.
As a symbol for the sun – or in the Christian interpretation for Christ – large stakes are lit on the night of St. John’s Day. To dance or jump over the fire is said to bring good luck. If you throw wood into the fire, you will get rid of all your misfortune at the same time. These bonfires were already common in the Middle Ages. They were banned in the 18th century because they were considered a superstitious cult. However, this custom prevailed again as early as the 19th century.
The Midsummer Night is not only considered to bring good luck, but also as mysterious and eerie. Very unusual things are supposed to happen that night: mountains open up and reveal their treasures, people can understand the language of animals and sunken bells begin to ring. It is also said that witches and demons wander around and celebrate feasts that night. To protect yourself from them one should stay on the crossroads or ring the bells.
In Scandinavian countries, the solstice is celebrated particularly extensively. A whole weekend-long party is the order of the day for the Midsummer Festival. In Sweden, the houses are decorated with birch leaves and flowers and a maypole is set up in every place. Anyone who can make it possible goes to the country. People dance and sing traditional old songs everywhere.