Enjoy Finland's Midsummer Juhannus

Photo by Marcia Villalba / Visit Finland

There's this weekend when cities in Finland become isolated. Ever wonder where all the Finns go? Well...

Juhannus or midsummer is the celebration of the summer solstice (between the 20th and 26th of June). It's a national holiday in Finland and because Finns look forward to the most awaited summer, it's no wonder why it occupies a special place in the calendar. Juhannus, the Finnish name for Saint John, is a feast of new life in nature, signifying the celebration of light and leaving the darkness behind. This event officially starts the summer season, where everyone enjoys the long days and white nights of Nordic summer. Some spend Juhannus in the cities, but most people celebrate it with family and friends in their summer cottages in suburbs, usually near forests and lakes. The solitude and relaxing atmosphere these places bring make it ideal for relaxing or partying. The most typical Juhannus celebrations include making the bonfires (kokko), and going to sauna, while younger people would have lots of fun in open air dances in traditional folk music and other songs.

Midsummer bonfire

Juhannus celebrates the arrival of summer. Activities such as making bonfires and watching them burn while everyone sing, dance, and play games together is one way to gather people and have a great feast together. This tradition is held throughout Finland. In Helsinki, it is situated at the open air museum of Seurasaari every year. This island is a wonderful place for celebration and making a huge bonfire. The museum boasts of its charming historical buildings, cottages, and farm houses which have been collected around Finland. An authentic and genuine Juhannus wedding could be included in the festivity program to make it even more special and joyful for people who gather in the island.

Midsummer decorations

Decorating houses with the greens of nature is for sure another beautiful custom to celebrate the arrival of summer and Juhannus. The early summer with its fresh green vegetation makes a nice effect in the decorations which people create during the Finnish Juhannus festivity. The old tradition is to cut and use young leaves of trees such as birch or aspen to use in decorating the house and the yard by putting the cut pieces of the tree standing at the sides, gates or stairs of the entrance, and leafy branches to decorate the windows. Another nice tradition which also holds mostly in summer cottages of countryside is to place the perfumed flowers in vases during Juhannus festivity; flowers such as valley lilies, bird cherry and lilac, or branches of mountain ash with its blossoms. Fresh and small branches of the birch tree are also picked and tied together to create a special switch and used in sauna bathing for hitting and slapping oneself.

Midnight sun, nightless night