6.26.2010

23/2010

Midsummer in Finland

Bonfires are very common in Finland, where many people spend their midsummer in the countryside outside towns.
Before 1316 A.D, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after the Finnish god Ukko. In Karelian tradition, many bonfires were burned side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko").

After the celebrations were Christianized, the holiday is known as Juhannus after John the Baptist (Finnish: Johannes Kastaja).
Since 1955 A.D, the holiday is always on a Saturday (between June 20 and June 26). Earlier it was always on June 24. A lot of the celebration of midsummer takes place on midsummer eve, when many workplaces are closed and shops have to close their doors at noon.

In the Finnish midsummer celebration, bonfires (Finnish kokko) are very common and are burnt at lakesides and by the sea. Often two young birch trees (koivu) are placed on either side of the front door to welcome visitors. Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a midsummerpole or maypole (Swedish midsommarstång, majstång).

In folk magic, midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Will o wisps were believed to be seen at midsummer night, particularly to finders of the mythical "fern in bloom" and possessors of the "fern seed", marking a treasure. An important feature of the midsummer in Finland is the white night and the midnight sun. Because of Finland's location spanning around the Arctic Circle, the nights near the midsummer day are short or non-existent. This gives a great contrast to the darkness of the winter time.

Many Finns leave the cities for Midsummer and spend their holiday in the countryside. Rituals include bonfires, sauna and spending time together.

Many music festivals of all sizes are organized on the Midsummer weekend. It's also common to start summer holidays on Midsummer day. For many families the Midsummer is the time when they move to the countryside to their summer cottage by the lake. Midsummerday is also the Day of the Finnish Flag. The flag is hoisted at 6 pm on Midsummer eve and flown all night till 9 pm the following evening.

2 kommenttia:

Meg in Nelson kirjoitti...

My parents spent a summer in either Sweden or Norway - something like 5 weeks, just to see the midsummer - I can't remember much, I think i t was in the 80's. I do remember a very white photograph my mother took of the midnight sun - all the colors washed away. And they complained that it was very hard to go to sleep! :-D

Kierikki kirjoitti...

Thank you Hannah!
I linked your blog message in our blog. I can't tell better about Midsummer than you did.

http://kierikki.web-log.nl/kierikki_nature_hotel_and/

And like all Finnish say: Hyvää Kesä!