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Summer Solstice Celebration: Midsummer Day in Finland

Midsummer day in Finland

When the Summer Solstice comes around in June, the Midsummer celebration in Finland begins! On Midsummer Day, Finland enjoys the warmth of summer with barbeques, time outdoors, and a Midsummer bonfire. Finland’s celebrations of Midsummer are rooted in its religious history and have evolved along with its transition to Christianity.

Learn about the Midsummer celebration Finland observes each year to gain greater insight into Finnish life and culture! Midsummer’s Eve traditions in Finland tell a lot about its culture as a whole, and as any successful language learner can tell you, comprehending a country’s culture is essential in mastering its language.

At FinnishPod101.com, it’s our goal to make this learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. What is Midsummer Day?

A very special celebration for the Finns is the Midsummer, or Juhannus, celebrated at the end of June. The Midsummer is a celebration of light and the height of the summer, and was originally celebrated as a part of the ancient Finnish religion. The Christian churches celebrate the Midsummer as the birthday of John the Baptist (Johannes Kastaja), from where the name Juhannus originates.

Midsummer is celebrated at the brightest time of the year, during which even the nights will be bright in Finland. The bright summer nights are known as the “nightless nights,” and create perfect conditions for the Midsummer party Finland puts on across the country.

2. What Day is Midsummer?

Sunglasses laying on calendar

Between the 19th and 26th of June, Finland celebrates the Summer Solstice through its Midsummer Festival. The date varies each year, so for your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 22
  • 2020: June 20
  • 2021: June 26
  • 2022: June 25
  • 2023: June 24
  • 2024: June 22
  • 2025: June 21
  • 2026: June 20
  • 2027: June 26
  • 2028: June 24

3. Reading Practice: Midsummer Celebration in Finland

Food cooking on barbeque

How do Finns celebrate Midsummer? Read the Finnish text below to find out, and find the English translation directly below it.

Monien suomalaisten perinteeseen kuuluu viettää juhannus kesämökeillä järvien rannoilla, joten kaupungeissa onkin juhannuksen aikaan hyvin hiljaista. Myös juhannusfestivaalit ja -konsertit ovat suosittuja, etenkin nuorten keskuudessa.

Juhannusperinteisiin kuuluu juhannussauna tuoreiden saunavihtojen kera, sekä pulahtaminen järveen. Koti, sauna ja soutuvene saatetaan koristella koivunoksin ja luonnonkukin, ja ruotsinkielisillä alueilla saatetaan pystyttää juhannussalko. Juhannuksena syödään ja juodaan hyvin. Etenkin grillaaminen on suosittua.

Tärkeä hetki juhannuksena on juhannuskokon sytyttäminen keskiyön tienoilla. Kokko on yleensä pystytetty järven rantaan, ja sen äärellä valvotaan seurustellen ja tunnelmoiden pitkälle yöhön, joskus aamuun saakka.

Juhannusta vietettiin Suomessa alun perin suomalaisten muinaisjumalan Ukon juhlana, sadon ja hedelmällisyyden varmistamiseksi. Tältä ajalta jäänteitä ovat myös leikkimieliset juhannustaiat, joiden tarkoitus on varmistaa tuleva sato ja naimaonni, tai ennustaa tuleva puoliso.

Juhannushäiden viettäminen oli myös ennen suosittua, mutta nykyään tapa on jo harvinaisempi. Juhannuksen viettoon kuuluu monilla myös romanttiset juhannustanssit. Tanssilavoille kokoontuu tällöin runsaasti ihmisiä tanssimaan lavatansseja, kuten valssia, humppaa, tangoa, foksia tai jenkkaa.

Juhannusta on nimitetty myös Ukon juhlaksi, mittumaariksi, mettumaariksi ja messumaariksi. Mittu,-mettu ja -messumaari nimet ovat lainasanoja ruotsinkielisestä ‘midsommar’ eli ‘keskikesä’-sanasta.

Many Finns have a tradition of spending the Midsummer at their summer cottages on the shores of lakes, which is why it is usually very quiet in the cities during Midsummer. Midsummer festivals and concerts are popular as well, especially among the young.

A part of Midsummer traditions is the Midsummer sauna, which includes fresh sauna bath whisks, and taking a dip in the lake. The home, sauna, and rowing boat may also be decorated with birch branches and natural flowers, and a maypole may be erected in Swedish-speaking areas. It is customary to eat and drink well during the Midsummer. Barbecuing is especially popular.

An important moment of Midsummer is the lighting of the Midsummer bonfire at midnight. The bonfire is usually placed at a lakeshore, and people will stay up socializing and enjoying the atmosphere next to it well into the night, sometimes until dawn.

Midsummer was originally celebrated as the feast of an ancient Finnish god Ukko, to ensure a good harvest and fertility. Other remnants of this ancient time are the playful Midsummer magic rituals, which were meant to ensure the future harvest and marital fortune, or to foresee one’s future spouse. Midsummer wedding celebrations also used to be popular, but nowadays that custom is less common.

Romantic Midsummer dance events are also a part of the Midsummer celebration for many people. Plenty of people will gather to dance pavilions at that time to participate in open-air dances like the waltz, humppa, tango, fox, or jenkka.

The Midsummer has also been called the Festival of Ukko, mittumaari, mettumaari, and messumaari. Mittu-, mettu-, and messumaari are loanwords from the Swedish word midsommar, which means “the middle of the summer.”

4. Midsummer Magic in Finland

Do you know why there are traditions of collecting flowers and staring into a pool (or natural spring of water) while naked on Midsummer night?

Midsummer magic is a part of Midsummer night. When you collect seven different flowers and put them under your pillow, you’ll see your future spouse in a dream. And when staring into a pool while naked, the image of your future spouse should appear on the water’s surface. There is a variety of different Midsummer magic traditions!

5. Useful Vocabulary for Finnish Midsummer Celebrations

Maypole

Here’s some vocabulary you should know for Midsummer in Finland!

  • Grillata — “Barbecue”
  • Juhannuspäivä — “Midsummer Day”
  • Sauna — “Sauna”
  • Virvatuli — “Will-o’-the-wisp
  • Suomen lipun päivä — “The Day of the Finnish Flag”
  • Juhannustaika — “Midsummer magic”
  • Keskiyön aurinko — “Midnight sun”
  • Juhannuskokko — “Bonfire”
  • Juhannussalko — “Maypole”
  • Juhannustanssit — “Midnight open-air dance”
  • Loitsu — “Incantation”
  • Saunoa — “Go to the sauna”
  • Mennä mökille — “Go to a cottage”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, check out our Finnish Midsummer Day vocabulary list. Here, each word is accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation and a relevant image.

Conclusion

What do you think of Midsummer’s Eve traditions in Finland? Does your country celebrate Midsummer Day, and if so, what do traditions look like in your country? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about the culture in Finland and the Finnish language, visit us at FinnishPod101.com. We provide an array of practical learning tools for every learner to ensure that anyone can master Finnish! Read more insightful blog posts like this one, study with our free Finnish vocabulary lists, and chat with fellow Finnish learners on our community forums. By upgrading to Premium Plus, you can also begin using our MyTeacher program to learn Finnish one-on-one with your own teacher!

Learning a new language is no easy goal, but know that your determination and hard work will soon reap rewards! And FinnishPod101 will be here with you for each step of your journey to Finnish mastery!

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