National Sleepy Head Day, or “Unikeonpäivä” as it is called in Finland, is a yearly celebration of sleeping late…Well, not really, unfortunately. I wish there would be such a day, but this one isn’t it.
The idea of the is actually quite the opposite. It punishes those who sleep late. Cruel, isn’t it. Traditionally, the last person still in bed is being awaken by loud sounds or by throwing water on him/her. Luckily no one really does this (anymore). People are let to sleep, or at least those who are on vacation.
So if no one follows the old traditions, what is the meaning of this day?
Well, it isn’t completely forgotten. The day is still celebrated in one place in Finland. In the city of Naantali.
Origins of the Celebration
The origin of the Sleepy Head is the story of Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. According to legend, the seven men went hiding in the caves and slept for hundreds of years. In Finnish almanac this Christian holiday has been mentioned since 1652. But the religious roots of the celebration have since been forgotten and the celebration is nowadays quite informal.
How the Sleepy Head Day is Being Celebrated
The city of Naantali is where all the celebrations takes place. The first written mention about the celebrations are from a news article from 1880s, where it said that celebrations went as usual. So we can assume that the tradition goes way back much further. It is known to have been celebrated in 1920s, but then it was forgotten for decades. Until being revived in 1950s.
Nowadays, big part of the celebration is the unveiling of the Sleepy Head of the year, who is usually a Finnish celebrity. The Sleepy Head is unveiled in the morning of July 27th, at 7 am. The sleepy head is often “woken up” by dropping him/her in the water. The “sleeper” also receives a traditional red and white pajama which he/she gets to wear the whole day while celebrating with others.
The Sleepy Head Day has become quite big festival in Naantali. Celebrations start couple of days before, and they typically include shows, concerts and a fair. If you are visiting Naantali, or you a nearby at the time, it is definitely worth a visit. Check Naantali’s website for more information.