Myths of Midnight Madness: Exploring the Summer Solstice Legends of Ancient Cultures

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What do Stonehenge, a mysterious arboreal royal known as the Oak King and communal bonfires have in common? They’re all important elements of legends surrounding the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year. Throughout history, Midsummer — an ancient celebration marking the solstice when one of Earth’s poles is tilted closest to the sun — has been celebrated across various cultures throughout the world, inspiring countless legends, rituals and festivities that are surprisingly entertaining and educational.

Evidence of humanity's celebration of the summer solstice can be seen in everything from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to the exacting construction of certain ancient monuments. Join us for a look at the traditions that summer solstice has inspired over the centuries, some of which live on to this day.