Is you have visited Finland in summer, you have probably heard the word juhannus. So what is juhannus, and why it means so much to Finns?
What is Juhannus?
Juhannus is the Finnish word for Midsummer celebration. Although you can celebrate Midsummer anywhere in the world, you can celebrate juhannus only in Finland. That’s because it is so strongly connected this country. It doesn’t feel the same in any other place. You need the right weather, the landscape, and most importantly the right people, the Finns!
It’s a Sign of Summer!
Juhannus is very important to Finns because it is the best sign of summer. Even though we are celebrating Midsummer, the best of summer is yet to come. Officially summer begins about a month earlier in the southern Finland, but the best summer weather arrives usually in July.
Many of the Finns also start their summer vacation at around midsummer, so juhannus is also the unofficial start of the summer vacation season in Finland.
So how about the weather. What can we expect?
Well, we all hope that it would be sunny and temperature +20 °C. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It might rain, or there might be a storm, and don’t be shocked if the temperature is below 10 °C.
But you know what. It doesn’t really matter. No matter what the weather is like, it can’t spoil the Finns’ mood. And think positive. It hardly ever snows on juhannus day!
Why Midsummer is Celebrated in Finland?
Most Finns would probably say that we are celebrating the summer solstice and the midnight sun. But did you know that the name for juhannus actually comes from Christian tradition. Saint John the Baptist is celebrated on June 24th. Hence the Finnish name for the holiday.
Midsummer was originally a pagan celebration. Bonfires were burnt during Midsummer to keep evil spirits away. It was also a tribute to ancient Finnish god Ukko, who controlled the rain. If Ukko was happy, he allowed us to get a good harvest.
When is Juhannus celebrated?
Midsummer celebration in Finland takes place on a Saturday at the end of June. The date varies between the 20th and 26th of June. The birth of the Saint John the Baptist is honoured on June 24th, and the Juhannus is celebrated on the Saturday closest to that date.
The summer solstice, when the day is longest in the northern hemisphere, takes place on June 21st. So there is a good chance for the juhannus to be at the same time with summer solstice.
Most of the celebration however takes place on Midsummer Eve, on Friday.