Friday, June 19, 2009

Hyvää Juhannusta / Midsummer / Litha

Here in Lapland, Juhannus is already in full swing!

Technically friday is Juhannusaato (Juhannus Eve) and everyone is out celebrating, having sauna together and getting drunk! Today there are very few people working.. it is similar to a Bank Holiday - classed as a holy day and on saturday.... Juhannus itself, EVERYWHERE is shut within Finland!

We've been out today visiting the family of my younger son's girlfriend... and on the way home, by the side of the main road are dotted the occasional log buildings. I say its a main road, which it is, but it is naturally heavily forested area either side and not that busy at all - in fact so dead today, that I don't think we saw even another car on the way home - and it's a good 3/4 hour journey! There was one building, that we noticed on our drive out.. although we knew what it was, we remarked on how much it looked like it was on fire, with smoke oozing out of the logs.. but it was actually an outdoor log sauna.. on its own in the field - a long way from any other building. On the way home, several hours later, were seen five large men, brightly red hot in colour, sat outside with just a white towel around their lower halves...around a camp fire, having a good drink. This is the style of Juhannus! Never mind the mosquitos...sauna, fire, drink! :D "Hyvää Juhannusta!" (Happy Midsummer!) - Wish I'd have had the guts to stop and take a pic of them!! :D

However, I found some great images at this link
The header image and many other stunningly beautiful photographs are located here

The Finnish flags are flying everywhere and of course, there is no night to be seen for several weeks yet.. and so everyone will be up for the majority of the night.. if not all of it! If you are walking home from an event at 2am, 3am, 4am or what ever... it all looks the same as if it were 4pm for example! It takes some getting used to as it can seriously mess up your body clock if you let it.

I will leave you with an image of Tupasvilla...(Cotton grass / Eriophorum vaginatum) in bloom in most swamps now!

View more here..

May I wish you all.. a very happy and safe Midsummer where ever you are!

This from Wikipedia:

Before 1316, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after the Finnish god Ukko (The God of Thunder). In Karelian tradition, many bonfires were burned side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko"). After the celebrations were Christianized, the holiday is known as Juhannus after John the Baptist (Finnish: Johannes Kastaja).

Since 1955, the holiday is always on a Saturday (between June 20th and June 26th). Earlier it was always on June 24th.

In the Finnish midsummer celebration, bonfires (Finnish kokko)are very common and are burnt at lakesides and by the sea. Often two young birch trees (koivu) are placed on either side of the front door to welcome visitors. In Midsummer night the sauna is typically heated and family and friends are invited to bathe and to grill.

In folk magic midsummer was a very potent night and the time for many small rituals, mostly for young maidens seeking suitors and fertility. Will o Wisps were believed to be seen at midsummer night, particularly to finders of the mythical "fern in bloom" and possessors of the "fern seed", marking a treasure. An important feature of the midsummer in Finland is the white night and the midnight sun. Because of Finland's location spanning around the Arctic Circle the nights near the midsummer day are short or non-existent. This gives a great contrast to the darkness of the winter time.

Many music festivals of all sizes are organized on the Midsummer weekend. It's also common to start summer holidays on Midsummer day. For many families the Midsummer is the time when they move to the countryside to their summer cottage by the lake. Often Finns spend the whole of July at the summer cottages. Midsummerday is also the day of the Finnish Flag. The flag is hoisted at 6 pm on Midsummer eve and flown all night till 9 pm the following evening.

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