3 enlightening ways to celebrate midsummer in Finland
Juhannus or Midsummer is the most awaited summer solstice celebration (between the 20th and 26th of June). It's a national holiday in Finland and has a special place on the calendar. The focus of this article is to talk about several meditative ways of celebrating Midsummer and the usual way people like to enjoy it.
Bonfire, energy, and brightness
The festivity of Juhannus is made of various traditions and rituals in Finland. Perhaps the most important one is a fire celebration and bonfire. As well as enjoying the bonfire, we could gather around the fire and use it to inspire some meditation practice. Many yoga practitioners from different cultures gather to celebrate the change of the season. This way, people reflect and meditate on the energy and brightness of the fire and the light and associate the summer solstice with the renewal of mind, body, and heart. Therefore, this could signify and manifest in celebrating creativity in art, music, etc., or even creating new healthy habits and making more meaningful beneficial choices in our lifestyle. Same as leaving behind the darkness of winter, leaving behind the negative-dark habits, and using the summer solstice as a point to starting a positive practice, this can be the best way to honor the gift of the sun.
Sauna, purifying and cleansing
Going to the sauna has always been another important part of the midsummer festivity, including warming up the sauna and collecting the bouquet of fresh birch branches (vihta: sauna whisk) for using it in the sauna, and swimming in the lake or sea. It would be interesting for foreigners to know that naked swimming in nature is popular in Finland among Finns. They are open-minded because sauna and swimming are intrinsic to their culture.
Indeed, the sauna's cultural and social aspect, especially during midsummer celebrations, is essential and unique, and we are aware of it. However, the Finnish sauna has physical and mental health benefits as well. The University of Eastern Finland scientists show why sauna bathing is good for our health. It is also known that Finnish saunas help in muscle relaxation, reduce stress, skincare, and detoxification because of naturally sweating at high temperatures. Therefore, they help purify the body from toxins. We could reflect on the meditative aspect of the sauna and therefore use it to clean up negative feelings from our hearts and replace them with positivity, journaling new optimistic goals for this summer and the rest of the year and praising the summer solstice this way as well.
Hospitality, compassion, and cooperation
People in Finland usually gather with friends, family, and loved ones to enjoy a relaxing time or party together with joy. Since we know the last two years, some people, especially older people, have stayed isolated and alone, far from gatherings and socializing. Some people also got sick and therefore were not able to visit anyone. It would be a very significant, compassionate, and wonderful gesture to invite more guests to the celebrations, people who have been under anxiety, stress, loneliness, or have been unwell/sick. Although people might think having more guests requires too much work, we can still look at it more meditatively and differently this year and try to simplify things. With the collaboration of family and friends, one can organize wisely to have more guests and spend much fun friendly time altogether by asking everybody to contribute to the work needed for the celebration. For example, kids are so enthusiastic and lively that we can ask for their help and cooperation to have more fun meals and games.
Midsummer is undoubtedly a valuable and precious celebration to honor the wonderful moment in Finland's fantastic nature. Watching the sunset, the intense green color of trees in forests, breathing deeply in the fresh air, grounding on the earth, observing our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and trying to be fully present in this magic moment of summer solstice and nature. Indeed, many calming benefits and a sense of well-being get involved when we meditate. From now on, we can use it as a delightful, powerful practice to incorporate into our life. Happy summer.