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Surviving Midsummer like a Finn

Midsummer, or Juhannus as it is known in Finland, is one of the most important holidays in the Finnish calendar, and it is one of the most extended holidays to celebrate and can last for 4 days to a week.

In the countryside, Juhannus is known for celebrating harvesting season, and the hosts typically invite guests to their cottage to help with fieldwork, such as cleaning the forest from old logs or collecting hays from the beachfront to make a large bonfire called Kokko. They might also make vihta or vasta, which are birch twigs for the sauna bathing and other preparations that make the Juhannus a day to remember.

It is when people come together to celebrate the longest days of the year and the arrival of summer. However, for a foreigner, surviving midsummer can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help you navigate the festivities.

Sauna Bathing

Sauna bathing is a big part of Finnish culture, and midsummer is no exception. Many Finns will spend hours in the sauna, often followed by a dip in the lake or sea. As a foreigner, you may be hesitant to try the sauna, but it’s worth giving it a go. Remember to bring a swimsuit, towel, flip-flops, and many non-alcoholic beverages to stay dehydrated in the heat of the sauna.

Alcohol Consumption

Finnish people love their alcohol, and midsummer is a time when many people let loose. If you’re planning on drinking, pace yourself – Finnish alcohol is strong, and it’s easy to get carried away. Suppose you do not want your non-existent alcohol-drinking habit to be a talking point for the whole Juhannus. In that case, you can always drink a non-alcoholic lonkero, cider, or beer, the preferred drink in the Finnish Juhannus.

Grilling Sausages

Grilling sausages is a Finnish midsummer tradition. Many Finns will spend hours grilling sausages over an open fire, often accompanied by beer and good company. Bring some sausages to grill if you’re invited to a midsummer celebration.

Outdoor Toilet

Many Finnish cottages don’t have indoor plumbing, so they use an outdoor toilet, typically a dry toilet. While this may initially seem daunting, it’s a common practice in Finland. You throw sawdust or other compost material from a bucket after using the toilet. Sanitary products should be thrown in the trash bin because Finns recycle their toilet waste.


Midsummer is also peak mosquito season in Finland, so bring insect repellent. Mosquitos can be a nuisance, especially if you spend time outdoors in the evening.

Finnish Small Talk

Finnish people are known for their love of silence, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like to talk. However, small talk in Finland can differ slightly from other countries. Finns tend to be direct and to the point, so don’t be offended if they don’t engage in lengthy conversations.

Swimming in the Cold Water

Be prepared for cold water if you’re brave enough to dip in the lake or sea. Even in midsummer, the water can be chilly. However, swimming is a great way to cool off after spending time in the sauna.

Midnight Sun

Finally, the midnight sun is one of the most unique things about midsummer in Finland. This means you can enjoy the long summer nights without worrying about darkness.

In conclusion, surviving midsummer in Finland as a foreigner can be a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity to experience Finnish culture at its best. So, embrace the sauna, try the local food and drink, and enjoy the long summer nights. Happy Juhannus!


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