Celebrating Summer

Four Scents Team


“Radiance – light or heat as emitted or reflected by something”, the Oxford dictionary neatly defines the word we’ve used to capture the essence of summer.

Light and heat are the essential components of this eagerly anticipated season of long, light days, hazy sunshine and warmth. Radiance also conveys an expression of great happiness, hope or beauty. With gardens in full bloom, the prospect of holidays and a popular season for music festivals and weddings, this word captures the mood succinctly.

We look for any excuse to live life more outdoors, dining alfresco, going for picnics or hosting and attending get-togethers. It’s the nudge towards adventure, a move away from the mundane and creating memories to savour and look back on over the darker months. We’re more inclined to clock off early and make the most of the daylight; we need play time as much as children do! We’re never too old for innocent curiosity, joyfulness and expression, so summer creates the perfect time to connect with our essential child-like selves.

How does the world and its many different cultures choose to celebrate this season of light and beauty?


Dragon Boat Festival

China celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, so it falls either in May or June (it’s 22nd June this year). It commemorates the life and death of Qu Yann, a famous Chinese scholar and has been celebrated for over 2,000 years. It is now a public holiday and has been added to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List. The dragon boat races are a key part of the festivities – the boats can be between 40 to 100 feet long and seat 80 rowers. The race symbolises bringing the dragons to life and laying them to rest when the race has finished. There are other elements to this festival – Zongzi, a traditional Chinese rice dumpling, is made and eaten with family members and friends as part of a memorial ceremony for Qu Yann, but also regarded as an oblation for their ancestors. This time of year (and the number 5) is also considered to be unlucky, so the celebrations also tie in traditions to ward it off. In some regions, parents braid five colours of silk threads to put on the wrists of their children in the belief that it’ll help keep bad spirits and diseases at bay. Drinking Realgar Wine or water were regarded as effective in preventing disease or evil (it certainly protects against mosquitoes or biting insects), as well as hanging mugwort and calamus. Other activities include taking long walks, wearing perfumed medicine bags and hanging up icons of Zhong Kui (a mythical guardian figure). The summer solstice is considered the peak of male energy, the dragon traditionally representing this – hence the dragon being associated with the boat festival.



Summer Solstice is celebrated across the Northern Hemisphere to mark the sun being at its highest point – this generally occurs between 20th and 22nd June. In Sweden, this is one of the most celebrated public holidays. Dating back to agrarian days, when midsummer was a welcoming of the summer and the season of fertility. It is usually celebrated in the countryside, with the wearing of flower wreaths, gathering with family and friends and dancing round a maypole in traditional dress. Plenty of traditional dishes such as pickled herring with boiled new potatoes are eaten, accompanied with schnapps. Celebrations continue long into the night, lasting over three days. Many European countries celebrate the day of St. John the Baptist with large bonfires, supposedly to drive away the dragons or evil spirits that poison springs and wells and as an emblem of St. John himself being “a burning and shining light”. And it would be wrong not to mention that many people travel to Stonehenge in Wiltshire to re-enact the Neolithic tradition of observing the sunrise, as it was built to align with the sun on the solstices; it is thought that ceremonies and rituals would have related to the changing seasons. Across the USA, many of the European festivities are replicated depending on which State you live in – most of them feature bonfires, traditional Scandinavian food, dancing and parades.


Independence Day

Independence is celebrated in the USA on 4th July, while France celebrates its Independence, or Bastille Day, on 14th July. Both mark turning points in their national history – in the USA’s case it was independence from British rule, and in France, it was the revolution against the ruling monarchy. Both nations celebrate with parades, fireworks, barbecues, picnics, speeches and parties. In France, the military parade on the Champs-Élysées is one of the oldest and largest in Europe with a military aircraft flyover, followed by the famous Eiffel Tower fireworks and free concert in the evening. In America, this is also observed as a national holiday. Parades are held in the morning, accompanied by patriotic songs, followed by family get-togethers outdoors. In the evening, bonfires feature as a centrepiece – some New England towns still compete to build the tallest one. Firework displays are held in all major cities, with New York City’s being the largest.


Sumidagwa Fireworks Festival

The fireworks theme continues with the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival in Japan on the last Saturday in July. This happens over both sides of the Sumida River that flows through central Tokyo, following the Japanese tradition of a competition between rival pyrotechnic groups. It can be traced back to 1732, during a famine where fireworks were launched to commemorate the dead. The country was also suffering economically, so its impact was felt worse than ever. So as well as mourning observances, it celebrated life and entertained the masses. The rivalries began to emerge later with two major guilds fighting to impress the onlookers and gain support. Even today, spectators call out the names of the guilds – Tamaya and Kagiya - when watching the displays. This has become something of a full-on festival with families making a whole day of it, meeting up in advance to find the best spot and enjoy traditional street food from the many stalls along the riverside.


Eid al-Adha

The Muslim community celebrate Eid al-Adha, the second and larger of the two main holidays, to mark the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage rites. Hajj is a mandatory pilgrimage observed by adults at least once in their lifetime, which ends in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Eid al-Adha literally means “Feast of the Sacrifice” and honours the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son – but before this happened, a lamb was provided. So as a result, part of the meat of a lamb is consumed by the family which offers the animal, while the rest of the meat is distributed to the poor. Gifts and sweets are given and extended family are welcomed or visited. Eid al-Adha falls on the last lunar month of the Islamic calendar, so the date varies; it generally tends to fall in July or August. All are expected to wear their finest clothes to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open field or mosque. Animal sacrifice still happens among the affluent following strict Halal instructions, particularly in Pakistan. People cook traditional sweets, including ma’amoul (filled shortbread) and samosas, gathering with family and friends.


La Tomatina

La Tomatina is held in the Valencian town of Buñol on the last Wednesday of August. Participants throw tomatoes, getting involved in a huge tomato fight just for entertainment and fun! It all began in 1945, when a Giants, Big-Heads and musicians parade went awry and a market stall of vegetables fell victim to the resulting brawl, with people pelting each other with tomatoes until the local forces ended the battle. Since then, people began to pre-plan the quarrel and bring their own tomatoes and so began a yearly tradition. Not just about tomatoes, a week prior to this is filled with events and activities. This includes a paella contest, tomato fireworks, and different parades and music bands. The events of the day itself begin with the “Palo Jabón”, a long, greased pole with a ham on top, the aim being for participants to climb the pole and make the ham drop, requiring them to climb on each other. During this, the other celebrants sing and dance in circles, all participants being doused in water. Once the ham drops, the tomato battle begins. The battle lasts for about an hour, with the battle ending with people going to the Los Peñones pool to wash or use the hoses that the locals provide. This event has got so popular that it is restricted to ticket holders!

This can be summarised as a season of joy, fun, fireworks and plenty of entertainment. The better weather and long evenings are made the most of. We wanted to convey the elements of festivities, warmth and flowers at their finest. With Summer Radiance, we captured this with an exotic collection of beautiful botanicals that soothe and spark memories of sunnier days. We invite you to treat yourself to this luxurious blend, whether it be a relaxing bath with our nourishing Himalayan Bath Salts or filling your home with a sense of serenity with our candles, diffusers or room mists. The natural scents evoke the spirit of celebration, light and warmth – something that can be revisited all year to help meet the longing for warmer days.


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