Midsummer ( Juhannus ) is one of the biggest events on the Finnish calendar and is celebrated on the Saturday after June 19. With the biggest events happening on Midsummer’s Eve, we set off to the island of Seurasaari for some traditional Finnish celebrations.
We’ve had a lot of rain this week, but the sun was out and the island is looking beautiful, covered in wildflowers and green.
We love how the landscape here is left untamed and unshaped over summer, just left free to do its own thing.
There was quite an extensive program on, with traditional crafts, singing, storytellers and puppet shows set up around the island.
At one place you could make your own head wreath, choosing flowers from baskets of wildflowers.
We stopped for a while in a clearing and the boys had turns on stilts while I went for a ride on a horse-drawn cart.
Next we went down to the main events area and had our picnic dinner and wine. There was a flag procession and singing and Jonathan got drawn into dancing a Finnish folk dance, much to his discomfort and our immense delight.
We soon followed Jonathan and his band of merry dancers down to the beach for the lighting of the first of the bonfires.
Midsummer bonfires are called kokko, which is also the name of a mythical bird of iron and fire from Finnish folklore, similar to a phoenix.
Despite the appearance that the sun was still rising in the sky, it was soon time for us to head off and get Miko to bed.
For those who stayed there was music and dancing until 1 am and more bonfires lit beneath the midnight sun.
Seurasaari is an open air museum and home to examples of Finnish architecture from across the ages and country. My parents are visiting from New Zealand and enjoyed checking out the different buildings on our way back to the bus.
You can tell by our clothing that it wasn’t a particularly warm night on Friday, with the temperature hitting a high of just 14 degrees. That was 14 degrees warmer than last year however, so in comparison it really was a Midsummer Night’s Dream.