There are probably as many ways of celebrating Midsummer [juhannus] as there are countries, or probably even more.

For some people in Finland it may remind them of St John (Johannes Kastaja) but personally for me the picture of juhannus is something like this: We are in our summer cottage with my family (mom, dad and a cat). We are outside in the evening and it is quite dark already. We have our own little bonfire [kokko] and we are frying our sausages on it. The weather is quite terrible (as pretty much always during Midsummer). Not that much of a sun normally during the day. The closer the clock goes to midnight the more noise we can hear from our neighbour. Probably if I would go closer to their shoreline  I could see some drunken men and women in their twenties or so having fun loudly and swimming naked in the sea.

So that’s probably the Finnish way of having Midsummer. This year Midsummer is on 23.6. and the Midsummer’s Eve is on 24.6. In Finland the Midsummer comes originally from our ancient religions feast but after Christianity came to Finland it became the day of Saint John the Baptist. Some other things that are normally linked to Finnish Midsummer are Midsummer sauna with bundle of birch branches and Midsummer dances. It has also its own Midsummer spells, the most known are probably the love spells. For example it was believed that by looking into spring at midnight while you are naked you would see your future spouse on the water (the only one that I personally remember, haven’t tried though). Also if you go to a part of Finland where there are many Swedish speaking Finns people you can see their maypoles.

So this is the Finnish way of spending Midsummer, what is yours?

Susanna Ailanto

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