Midsummer Festival in Finland

This weekend saw Juhannus celebrated, the midsummer festival in Finland.   It is one of those much anticipated celebrations in Finland which seems to mark the start of Summer for the locals.  Many Finns will celebrate Juhannus at their summer cottages with a Midsummer sauna, bonfire and plenty of alcohol.

Juhannus BonfireJimmy and I decided this year to check out the Seurasaari Midsummer Bonfires on Seurasaari Island about a 20 minute bus ride from the centre of Helsinki.    We joined up with a group event organised through Internations as this was our first time to Midsummer and thought it would be a great way to meet some new people and enjoy the night as part of a group.   We met the organiser in the city and she gave us a ride to Seurasaari where we met a couple of others just in time to see the lighting of the first bonfire at 6:00pm.

Seurasaari is the home of the Open Air Museum a collection of historic buildings from various periods and regions from throughout Finland’s history, so is quite an appropriate place to celebrate such an ancient tradition.   The pathways leading to the main festivities area are lined with various stalls selling handicrafts and other mid-summer souvenirs, as well as a smattering of food stalls.

SAMSUNG CSCThe celebration itself is very traditional with lots of people in period costume and many symbols of this ancient tradition, one of which is all the girls wearing garlands of flowers or birch in their hair.  One of the traditions is for young girls to collect 7 different wild flowers and place them under their pillow to dream of their future spouse.   The main festivities start with a procession of Finnish flags from the entry bridge to the main festival area, where the celebrations begin with all sorts of singing and folk dancing and even a wedding.  At 7:20pm a children’s bonfire is lit on the Bonfire shore and later at 10:00pm the main bonfire is lit by the bridal couple, after which the folk dancing and tangos continue into the white night.

If you ever find yourself in Helsinki at midsummer, then get along to the Seurasaari Midsummer Bonfires and celebrate like a Finn.

Even if you aren’t here for midsummer the island is open all year with the buildings closed only in winter so it is worth a visit to enjoy the history of Finland in one place.

SAMSUNG CSC
Main Bonfire
SAMSUNG CSC
Tango Time
Children's Bonfires
Children’s Bonfires
Children playing
Children playing

 

Viator

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Tony Fitzpatrick
Architect, Dad, Traveller & Head Rover at Around Rock 3
After a brief flirtation with Japan in the early '90's, and some occasional trips to Australia since, I have had an unrequited love affair with Japan and general desire to explore the world for the next 20 years while reality prevailed and I found myself pretty much stuck in my home country of New Zealand (not that is an entirely bad thing...).After a chance opportunity arose in mid 2012 to relocate our family to Moscow, Russian Federation I finally set off on my OE with my family in tow. It has been an amazing journey that has seen us experience life in Russia, Japan and now Finland, as well as visiting around a dozen countries so far in our adventure to date.While my family situation has changed along the way, I am continuing to explore the world with my tri-lingual son and enjoy sharing the adventures we have had with my followers.

6 comments

  1. Wow that is very beautiful !
    It seems as if Finland is a wonderful country with interesting celebrations and very kind people 🙂
    Next Week I will go to Finland and Sweden for the first time, I am so excited for the beautiful nature and the kind people.
    I really hope the weather is good.

    1. Thanks, yes it is a really beautiful place. I am off to Sweden also next week. Enjoy your visit, the ABBA museum in Stockholm is really worth a visit if you grew up in the 70’s or ’80’s…. If you need any advice on either 2 countries or need a guide in Helsinki let me know and if I haven’t got much on I could show you around.

  2. Hi,

    Seems like an interesting event. I know little or nothing about Finland other than it’s a Scandinavian country.

    The article provides a nice glimpse into the way of life there, something I’d have never thought of.

    Interesting niche.

    There must be a lot to write about. I hope to visit Europe someday. I’ll know where to look for insight when I go.

    Good job.

    Bob

    1. well Bob, I hate to have to break it to ya, but the one thing you believe about Finland is wrong….. It is NOT a Scandinavian country after all. It is a Nordic country and a Baltic country but not Scandinavian, so there os a geography lesson for today. Yes it is an interesting niche with plenty to write about, too much maybe….

      If you do make it to Europe do check out Finland it is a really beautiful country, and yes please come back to the site. I will soon be adding an area where you can check and book everything from flights and hotels to rental cars, train passes and tours.

  3. Hi Tony, I love reading about other countries and their traditions. I haven’t been to Finland yet. I have been to Sweden and Norway and enjoyed it very much. Midsummer must be such a special time of year. I wonder if Sweden and Norway celebrate in a similar way? I was quite surprised to read that they were dancing the Tango. Definitely not something I would associate with Finland.
    Best regards Anke

    1. Hi Anke,

      Yes it is a special time of year for the Finns, seems to be the start of summer for them so they really look forward to it. I think it is a widespread tradition throughout a lot of Europe from what I understand.

      As for dancing Finland has their own special Tango (or Salsa) dance which surprised me a lot.

      Tony

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