Magical Midsummer in Finland
Midnight sun and sauna, the perfect ingredients to celebrate Midsummer in Finland.
Imagine sun that doesn’t set beyond the horizon line, warm summer’s breeze, still forest lake and a wood-heated lakeshore sauna which is warmed up to just about to the right temperature around 80C (176F). And there you have it, very typical Finnish Midsummer’s, or as it is known in Finland, Juhannus’ idyll.
Juhannus is the high point of the summer for many, and the start of the summer holiday period. Although originally a pagan celebration, the Christian Church celebrates the birth of St. Hans in this time, and it’s from St. Hans where the celebration in Finland has also got its name.
If you happen to be in Finland around the time of Juhannus, you may notice the increased traffic on the roads leading out of the towns and cities as the Finns are heading to their cabins to enjoy the company of loved ones and the longest light days of the year. But there is still a lot going on in the cities and festivals around the country too for those who prefer party over the peace of countryside.
Here are few ideas from our team here at 50 Degrees North on how to make the most of Juhannus in Finland. Just remember to do your shopping on time, many shops are only open in the morning in the Midsummer’s eve, and not at all on the actual Midsummer’s day. Midsummer eve celebrations take place around the 19th June.
Midsummer sauna. This is a must. If you are not enjoying Juhannus in a lakeside cabin with a wood-heated sauna, there are many public saunas in cities and towns around Finland where you can enjoy the soft heat heat of the sauna while getting ready to celebrate the midnight sun.
Bonfires (juhannuskokko). Bonfires go hand in hand with the Juhannus celebrations and these are often burned at lakesides and by the sea. You can find large Juhannus gatherings all around the country where bonfires burn all through the night.
The Magic of Midsummer. Being a pagan tradition, there are still many traditions that rely on folk magic and small rituals especially when it comes to securing fertility and seeking suitable suitors. My favourites? Pick seven different kinds of wild flowers and put them under your pillow on Midsummer’s Eve, and you will dream of your future husband/wife. You should also be mindful of the direction of the smoke from bonfire, as that direction indicates who is getting married next. Young maidens should also try going around the sauna naked three times at midnight, and then peeking into a well or in the window if they want to see their future husband.
Although many cities quiet down during the Midsummer celebrations, there is still a lot going on in all the cities, Helsinki included. Midsummer Eve celebrations take traditionally place in Kaivopuisto, Kivinokka and Stansvik, and for those wishing for a more maritime celebration, there are several Midsummer cruises to choose from. Midsummer dances are also a typical way to celebrate the longest day of the year and public saunas are a great alternative for those who stay in the city. For more information and all the details see the Visit Helsinki website.
There are two distinctively different ways to spend Juhannus. In the countryside in a cabin, or partying the night away at a festival with thousands of others. There are music festivals in all possible genres taking place over the summer, and especially in Juhannus time in Finland, but be sure to book your tickets in advance!
Image credits: Visit Finland, Marcia Villalba & Jussi Hellsten