In June, July and August: So many ways to celebrate summer!

Fourth of July fireworks by Tom Webster of Portland via Wikimedia Commons

Fourth of July fireworks by Tom Webster of Portland, shared via Wikimedia Commons.

JUNE and JULY and AUGUST 2015—Fresh watermelon slices, drippy ice cream cones, a patriotic spirit and fireworks booming in the night paint the picture of summer, as June, July and August bring the heat of the season. Summer fun is the theme of this trio of months—and red, white and blue color the scene when June brings Flag Day and July rings in Independence Day—also known as the Fourth of July—in the U.S. To the north, July also brings Canada Day, in honor of the 1867 enactment of the Constitution Act. Summer officially enters the Northern Hemisphere on June 21 with the Summer Solstice, and for centuries in countries around the world, this carefree time of year has been given the nickname, “Midsummer.”

Patriotic decoration of white fence on historic street on sunny day

Photo by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism, courtesy of Flickr

Pitch a tent at a nearby park or even in the backyard, because June celebrates the wonders of nature with Great Outdoors Month. Travelers may set up their tents hundreds of miles away from home—or opt for accommodations indoors—with August ushering in American Adventures Month. American Adventures Month urges everyone to get out and explore everything that America has to offer, from its 58 registered national parks to historic towns, beaches and favorite locales everywhere. Just be sure to practice safety on the water, outdoors and when grilling, because June is National Safety Month.

“Dad” takes center stage on June 21 with Father’s Day, and you also can voice the impact he’s made on your life when August brings What Will Be Your Legacy Month. A sizzling grill and the musical tune of a passing ice cream truck signify summer, and June is Dairy Month and Candy Month. July ushers in National Ice Cream Month and Hot Dog Month. If picking fresh, juicy berries is a warm-weather favorite, fill those buckets during July—Blueberry Month.

While summer months bring picnics and carnival foods at the fair, Muslims will be fasting from all food and water during daylight hours with the start of Ramadan on the evening of June 17. Based on lunar cycles, Ramadan continually moves earlier in the standard calendar. With the long days in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year—the 2015 holy month will be especially challenging for Muslim families.

In Japan and across Buddhist communities worldwide, July and August bring Ullambana and the Ghost Festival, with the month-long span of festivities loosely called Obon season.

As August draws to a close, children and young adults around the world head Back to School. Don’t forget to get up to date on vaccinations before starting school—August is National Immunization Awareness Month. The 70th anniversary of that famous photograph of a sailor planting a swooping kiss onto a young woman is captured on August 14 this year, and just days earlier, the world observes the 70th anniversary of the drop of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (Aug. 6).

Check out these summer highlights …

Large pole decorate with leaves in middle of grassy area with a few people in background

A midsummer decoration in Sweden. Photo by Hakan Dahlstrom, courtesy of Flickr

JUNE: MIDSUMMER

The longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere has been met with celebrations for thousands of years. Across Europe, the festival of Midsummer still ranks among the grandest of festivals. Shakespeare penned A Midsummer Night’s Dream between 1590 and 1596 CE, but among Christians, Midsummer is also widely known as St. John’s Day. Today, Midsummer celebrations have extended to parts of the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Malta. It’s known alternatively as “midwinter” in areas of the Southern Hemisphere, such as Brazil, Argentina and Australia. The bonfires of Midsummer begin on the evening prior, when it is believed that fires protect against any roaming evil spirits.

Escaping the hustle-and-bustle of city living means that many celebrants head to the countryside. In some countries, young girls show off their spring fashions and wear flower wreaths on their heads. In some regions, you may even see people gathering around a decorated Maypole.

For a visual overview of Midsummer, check out this informative YouTube video.

JULY: INDEPENDENCE DAY

Red, white and blue decorations unfurl nationwide on Independence Day, a federal holiday also known as the Fourth of July. Parades, fireworks, barbecues, concerts, family gatherings and public ceremonies have become a national way of celebrating July Fourth, in commemoration of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Ironically, the Declaration of Independence was not the day the Continental Congress decided to declare independence—that was done two days earlier, on July 2. Then, July 4 was the date the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration. Since “July 4” was the date included on the original handwritten copy of the Declaration, celebrations have commenced on that date ever since.

American flag flying in wind against blue sky

Photo by Brandi Korte, courtesy of Flickr

Mark America’s 239th anniversary in a Star-Spangled Banner manner by taking in A Capitol Fourth, a musical-and-fireworks display on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Hosting or attending a July 4th party? Find recipe ideas at Food Network, Taste of Home, AllRecipes, Food & Wine, Kraft and Eating Well. Decorating with a patriotic theme? Check out HGTV and Martha Stewart for inspiration.

AUGUST: 70 YEARS

On August 6, the world commemorates the dropping of the most powerful bomb the world had seen to date, the atomic bomb, over Hiroshima, Japan. At 8:16 a.m. Japanese time, the American B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the bomb over the city of Hiroshima. When the Japanese failed to accept the Potsdam declaration—calling for unconditional surrender—issued 10 days earlier, U.S. President Harry S. Truman made the decision to drop the bomb. Approximately 80,000 people were killed directly; another 35,000 were injured, and 60,000 more were dead by the end of the year. Still, President Truman predicted the loss of life to have been much greater had the U.S. invaded the Japanese mainland, so he deployed atomic weapons.

Sailor kissing woman in white dress in black-and-white

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Days later, on August 14, it’s the 70th anniversary of the date of that famous snapshot, The Kiss, taken in Times Square in 1945. It was V-J Day, and upon announcement that the Japanese had surrendered and the war was over, crowds went wild with excitement—which included the spontaneous kiss of a sailor and young woman in a white dress. Several men and women have come forth through the decades as the man and woman in the photograph.

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