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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Finland Series at FinnishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Finnish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 4, Midsummer. In Finnish, it’s called juhannus.
This is a very special celebration for Finns and it takes place at the end of June. Midsummer is a celebration of light at the height of the summer, and was originally celebrated as part of an ancient Finnish religion. Christian churches celebrate Midsummer as the birthday of John the Baptist (Johannes Kastaja), from where the Finnish name juhannus originates.
In this lesson we will learn about the traditions associated with the Finnish Midsummer.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
Do you know why there is a tradition of collecting flowers or staring into a pool while naked on Midsummer night?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Midsummer is celebrated at the brightest time of the year, during which even the night is as bright as the day in Finland and you can see what’s called the midnight sun, or yötön yö. The bright summer nights are in fact known as the nightless nights, because the sun never technically sets. Midsummer is celebrated on Midsummer's Eve and Midsummer's Day, which is always the Saturday between the 20th and 26th of June. Many Finns have a tradition of spending the Midsummer at their summer cottages, or kesämökki, on the shores of lakes, which is why it is usually very quiet in cities during Midsummer. Midsummer festivals and concerts are popular as well, especially among young people.
One important part of Midsummer traditions is the Midsummer sauna, or juhannussauna with fresh sauna bath whisks made of birch twigs, and taking a dip in the lake. People’s homes, saunas and rowboats may also be decorated with birch branches and natural flowers, and a maypole or juhannussalko may be erected in Swedish-speaking areas. It’s customary to eat and drink well during the Midsummer, with barbecuing being especially popular. The climax of Midsummer is the lighting of a bonfire, or kokko, at midnight. The bonfire is usually placed at a lake shore, 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 future harvests and marital fortune, or to foresee one's future spouse. Midsummer wedding celebrations also used to be popular, but nowadays that custom has become less common. Romantic Midsummer dance events are also an unforgettable part of the Midsummer celebration for many. Plenty of people gather at dance pavilions to participate in open-air dances like the waltz, humppa, tango, fox, or jenkka.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know why there is a tradition of collecting flowers or staring into a pool while naked on Midsummer night?
Midsummer magic is a part of the folk-beliefs surrounding Midsummer night. It is believed that when you collect seven different flowers and put them under your pillow, you will 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. These are just a few of the many different Midsummer magic spells!
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Have you ever tried Midsummer magic spells?
Leave us a comment at FinnishPod101.com, and see you in the next class!