Summer traditions from around the world

America loves summer celebrations — from barbecues and parades to baseball games and state fairs, we find ways to spend time with friends and community.

And Americans aren’t the only ones! All over the world, people take advantage of the warm weather, with annual festivals that mix old-time tradition with a little modern fun. Here are a few events that keep our global neighbors smiling all summer long.    

Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival Tokyo, Japan

(Held on the last Saturday in July)

Fireworks have a long history in Japan and are a big part of summer culture, but the most popular event may be the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival, which launches about 20,000 fireworks every July. This annual spectacle includes vibrant pops of light that look like happy faces, animals, characters from Japanese pop culture, and other shapes and patterns.

The first event can be traced back to 1733, to honor those who passed in a terrible famine and ward off evil spirits. Today, it has evolved into a joyous and popular celebration attended by over 1 million people each year.

Big events with large crowds can keep you out much later than normal. Make sure you plan ahead, so you can take care of your smile without worry. Here are a few tips:

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    Stay hydrated with water instead of drinking carbonated, acidic, or sugary beverages.

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    Keep a few essentials handy, like floss, travel sized toothpaste, and lip balm with at least SPF 30.

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    Make sure to brush and floss before bed, even if you get home late!

Picnic Day Australia’s Northern Territory

(Held on the first Monday in August)

No one is completely sure why or when this holiday began, but it likely dates back to the late 1800s as an annual event (and rare day off from work!) for railway employees. Today, it is a national holiday in the Australia’s Northern Territory but not in the south.

The Harts Range Races are held each Picnic Day. This event includes horse racing, bull rides, whip cracking contests, and lizard racing. Like any picnic, there are foods that can help or harm your oral health. If you find yourself celebrating Picnic Day, remember that shrimp is a great source of calcium and phosphorus, which supports strong teeth. But fresh mango and other acidic foods and drinks should be washed down with water.

You’ll also want to limit savory items like sausage rolls and desserts like lamington, a sponge cake coated in sugar. These processed foods provide little nutrition and can stick to your teeth, increasing the chances of tooth decay. 

Wondering how to pack a smile-friendly picnic? Learn how to prepare healthy on-the-go meals in our sack lunch article.

Wianki FestivalPoland

(Held on the last Saturday in June)

By far the oldest tradition on our list, the Wianki (“Wreath”) Festival is over a thousand years old! It started as summer solstice celebration that included songs, fortune-telling, bonfires, and wreath-weaving. Today, this has expanded to include concerts, pop-up markets, “best wreath” competitions, and more.

Traditional Wianki Festival food includes poppy seed buns, plum and vanilla meringue cakes, and pastries filled with vegetables or meat. These are similar to other festival foods around the world, which can include processed bread, large quantities of sugar, or other ingredients that contribute to tooth decay.

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    After you enjoy a sugary festival treat, drink some water to help keep your mouth clean.

Independence DayAmerica 

(Held on the Fourth of July)

Let's end with a celebration closer to home. Each year, Americans across the country eat hot dogs, bake pies, and set off explosions in the sky. A few tips for making your holiday a healthier one:

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    If you’re at a barbecue or potluck, try filling most of your plate with healthier options like leafy greens (which are a great source of calcium) or grilled chicken (a lean protein source) instead of starchy potato dishes or fattier entrees like bratwurst.

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    The sugar in desserts, side dishes, and alcoholic drinks can breed bacteria and cause cavities.

Summer festival and event season is here! Protect your teeth and gums while you’re out and about so you can sightsee with a smile.

Check out even more Grin! articles