Midsummer Eve: June 20
Midsummer Eve is a public holiday celebrated in Finland.
While midsummer simply refers to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, also refers to the specific European celebrations that do accompany the actual solstice. European midsummer-related holidays, celebrations, and traditions are all pre-Christian in origin and are particularly more important in the northern and western parts of Europe. Finland is no exception to this.
History of Midsummer Eve in Finland
The celebration of midsummer’s eve originates in ancient times when it was linked to the summer solstice. People believed that the midsummer plants had miraculous healing powers and therefore frequently picked them on Midsummer Eve. Bonfires were lit all over to protect against evil spirits or witches that were generally believed to be roaming freely at night.
Before 1316, the summer solstice was referred to as “ukon juhla” after the Finnish god Ukko. During the Finnish midsummer celebrations, bonfires were burnt by the sides of the lake and the sea. In eastern Finland, entire birch trees were cut and brought to the sides of front doors to welcome visitors. Additionally, Midsummer Eve was supposed to be a potent night for small rituals by young maidens who were seeking suitors and fertility.
Finland’s Midsummer Eve Traditions, Customs and Activities
A very important feature of the midsummer festival in Finland is that nights around the midsummer days are very short and are almost nonexistent. This leads to the “White Night” as some people call it.
Bonfires are typical during Midsummer Eve. Additionally, the Finnish flag is hoisted at about 6 pm on Midsummer Eve and flown all night till 9pm of Midsummer Day. During the midsummer weekend, many well-organized music festivals take place.
It should be noted that the eve is not a public holiday, though many businesses do close down for the day. Midsummer Day is, however, considered a public holiday.