Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Almost only in Finland there is a great feast in the Midsommer. Some people in Sweden know what we are talking about, but that's it. I guess Finland is geografically one of the countries which has to use every opportunity to celebrate summer, in case we have one. At least, if we do not have a fine weather, we have a lot of light. Actually in Juhannus (The Midsummer Feast) in the northern parts of Finland the sun never gets down! Nor do the Finns, at least the younger ones... But you who do not realize that this is it: after the midsummer the days are getting shorter again. On Friday nobody goes to work beause it is Juhannus.
Midsummer is the celebration of the most luminous time of the year. In Finland it is also the Flag Day and according to the official rules, flags are raised at six in the evening on Midsummer's Eve and lowered at 21 hours on the evening of the following day. Midsummer is surely the most delightful of Finland's public holidays.
It is called the festival of "Nightless Night" because in the northern part of Finland, that is above the Arctic Circle, the sun does not go down behind the horizon at all!
The festival is celebrated on the Saturday that falls between 20th June and 26th June. Many of the customs associated with Midsummer's Day derive from the pre-Christian and pan-European festival of light and fertility that marked the summer solstice. The burning of the Midsummer kokko (bonfire), originally a tradition linked, in the north and east of the country, with beliefs concerning fertility, cleansing and the banishing of evil spirits, has in the 20th century spread throughout Finland. It has become the central element in the programme of commercial Midsummer festivities, along with music and dance.
Homes are decorated with flowers and birch branches. A Midsummer pole, reminiscent of an ornamental sailing mast, is part of the Finland-Swedish tradition of southern Finland and Ahvenanmaa (also called Aweland...)
Everybody who has the slightest possibility travel to the countryside and towns are really deserted. Everything is closed and the tourists who do not perhaps know about this tradition think that a Neutron Bomb must have hit the streets.
It's a Finnish tradition to drink a lot during the festival, many people don't go to sleep at all during Midsummer Night because it is so bright. The statistics for the number of people drowned and otherwise killed in accidents are morbidly counted every year.
Here you can listen to our National Anthem and see some pictures from Finland.
We love Juhannus!