Midsummer festival, Juhannus, is a celebration of light and summer. It’s one of the most expected holidays in Finland. After the long and dark winter, it is time to relax and get together with friends and family. Midsummer starts the holiday season in Finland and there is even a public holiday to allow everyone to have a long weekend.
Festivities take place the weekend after the summer solstice, around the third weekend of June. People escape to their summer cottages, and cities are ghostly quiet. Yet, cottage districts and camping areas are completely the opposite. People enjoy the nightless night together and do not hesitate to express the joy loudly. Drinking beer, listening to Finnish hits, and cooking outdoors are common midsummer activities. Grill sausage is a must and you can find first-harvest potatoes and herring on your plate for sure.
Sweat it off!
Sauna is a crucial part of Finnish midsummer celebrations. Nearly every summer cottage has a sauna and while bathing, it’s common to clean your skin with vihta, a birch whisk. It will renew your skin and improve blood circulation. May sound weird, but it makes you feel refreshed, not to mention the lovely scent of birch leaves. Usually, summer cottages are located next to a lake and it is common to dip into the water in between of sauna baths.
Sauna prepares you for the midnight magic. The origin of midsummer spells goes back to the days when people were superstitious and believed in magic. Most of the rituals were for young unmarried women, so the spells concentrated on partner finding and love. Nowadays, the spells are a fun activity to do with friends and family.
If you collect seven different flowers and place it under your pillow on midsummer night, you will see your future husband in your dreams.
Light it up!
Sauna and spells are not the only traditions during the midsummer celebrations. It is common to collect twigs and blocks of wood beforehand, and then light the fire on midsummer. A bonfire is usually set next to a lake or on a raft that is sent out to the water. It is a social event, and people around the neighborhood gather together to have a cheerful discussion over the activity. Originally the bonfire was set up to drive away bad spirits.
There is a countless number of other midsummer festival traditions depending on the region. In addition, the traditions varies between families and generations. In Finland, you can create a midsummer tradition that suits you the best!
Find out more on why you should visit Finland next summer!