As a young country girl in Finland I believed in Midsummer Magic. I used to collect seven flowers from the fields and place them under my pillow on Midsummer Night. This popular tradition was supposed to be a way to find out if my future fiancée would show up in my dreams. This was a long time ago and I am not sure if my husband actually showed up in my dreams, but I do remember how exciting it was to go to sleep that night!
Midnight Sun mythology is a well-known part of Finnish folklore. There are many interesting stories and beliefs as to what magic can happen on Midsummer Night. In folk magic, Midsummer is a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Many intriguing traditions still surround the celebration of the Summer Solstice. Swedish-speaking Finns often celebrate by erecting a Midsummer Maypole as part of ther festivities.
It is said that “the colder the country the more passionately they celebrate their Summer.” Finns go mad when they see the first sunny days as a sign of the approaching Summer. This attracts many for drinks on the terrace and catching up on a Nordic tan. The colourful marketplaces in Finland feature strawberries and peas eaten fresh from the pod. However, it is Juhannus (Midsummer) – the main Summer Fest, that represents the arrival of the long waited Summer.
If you are visiting Helsinki you can discover the traditional elements of a Finnish Midsummer celebration at Seurasaari Open Air Museum, only 30 min bus ride from the CBD. There are also concerts, outdoor dance events and family entertainment around the City. Midsummer celebrations are about bonfires and water, music and dance, and outdoor games under the national flag and birch trees.
Finns typically spend the longest day of the year with friends and family at a Summer cottage by the sea or lakeside, either relaxing or partying! There are also countless events and festivals all over the country, with parties often lasting beyond the wee hours, simply because it’s hard to tell when the night ends and a new day starts! But sometimes all you really need is a night swim in the lake.
The Crazy Sun and Magical White Nights
Because of Finland’s location spanning the Arctic Circle, the nights near the Midsummer Day are short or non-existent. Our crazy sun don’t set in Summer (White Nights) and refuses to rise in the Winter (Polar Nights). You can read the newspaper at 4 am sitting outside and enjoying the white light.
There is a lot to discover about Finland. If you want to learn more about Finns check out this book . There are many other interesting stories like the one where Maidens bend over a well, naked, in order to see their future husband’s reflection… But(t) thats another story.