What things are included in Finnish Midsummer traditions?
If you want to celebrate Midsummer (juhannus in Finnish) in traditional way, here are some good “ingredients”!
Finnish Midsummer Traditions:
One of the most common Midsummer traditions in Finland is the Midsummer bonfire (juhannuskokko in Finnish). The bonfire is burnt on Midsummer Eve. In a land of a thousand lakes, it is usually burnt by the lakeshore, or by the sea. Or in some other place with open space. So that many people as possible get to enjoy it. In the old days burning the bonfire was believed to scare the evil spirits away. These days it is burnt mostly just for the nice atmosphere.
One common Misummer tradition is the Midsummer Pole or Maypole (juhannussalko in Finnish). This is popular especially among the Swedish-speaking Finns.
Birch Brances and Meadow Flowers
Birch leaves are a sign of summer and therefore brances of birch trees are placed on both side of the front door as a decoration. This is usually done in the countryside (or at the summer cottage) where birch trees are available. Also meadow flowers are picked for vases as Midsummer decorations.
Midsummer takes place about the same time with summer solstice. This means that day is long, and in Lapland almost endless. So one part of celebration is to stay up as late as possible and admire the sunset. And perhaps watch also the sunrise just a few hours later. In Northern Finland it is possible to admire the nightless nights of Lapland.
Midsummer is believed to bring good luck. in the old days bonfires were burnt to scare the evil spirits away and magic spells were cast to improve love life.
Not to forget these:
- Wild Swimming
And remember that in Finland Midsummer is celebrated outdoors!
Image features Finnish Midsummer celebrations in Helsinki in 1970s. Image by Finnish Heritage Agency, photographer Teuvo Kanerva