Saturday, June 23, 2018

Midsummer in Finland with the Wandering Writer

If you think you have seen it all, and there is nothing so extreme you haven't experienced, but you haven't been in Finland for the celebrations of Midsummer, you must think twice.
First a little bit of history about the midsummer celebrations and meaning.
All the celebrations start with the Summer solstice, is the day with the longest period of daylight.
There is no way to determine when humanity started to realize this and celebrate it. However, the oldest relic that testifies the acknowledgment and therefore the celebrations, were found in Egypt, one hundred kilometers west of Abu Simbel in a place called "Nabta Playa."
The Midsummer played a vital role for life in Egypt as it was connected with the flooding cycle of the Nile.

However, all over the world, the summer solstice played a vital role in the life of the people. Whether it was connected with the flood cycle of the main river, with the harvest period, or with the connections between the underworld and the world of the livings, there isn't a place, which doesn't celebrate it.
During the centuries, the different religions have adapted the original pagan meanings to their own advantage and in the Christian world, the main celebration for this day is the St. John's day, in honour of the birth of the Saint John the Baptist.

In Scandinavia, the meaning gets mixed, and even though it is still called as the St. John's day (in Finland Juhannus), the reason for the celebrations are more connected with the pagan tradition.
The longest day of the year is what seems to be the most important to celebrate, and here in Helsinki, we are gathering a respectable 18:55 hours of daylight (not that the night gets that dark either!). 
People do not gather into the churches, as they all escape the city to spend the two days (midsummer eve and midsummer day) in the summer cottage or somewhere in the countryside.
In the cities, the traditional bonfires are lighted up, and people try to get the most out of the Summer.
Wow, this looks awesome, doesn't it?
And it would also be awesome if it weren't for the "curse of the Midsummer."
What does it mean?
It means that for the period before and after the solstice the weather is fair, but for the whole week of the celebrations, you might even have snow.
So much for the Summer Solstice, which resembles the winter one.
Yesterday, we had a nice storm that forced us to light up the fireplace (IN SUMMER!!)
Today the weather seems to be kinder, but the temperatures are still quite far from the summer ones.

Nevertheless, Finnish people are used to it, and they do not really care. Stubbornly they will never give up their celebrations for no reason in the world. The original pagan tradition in Finland dedicates the day to the deity Ukko (the god of thunder).

He was the one who controlled the weather and particularly, the rain for a good harvest. Yes, Mr. Ukko might have not taken lightly the fact of being overshadowed by another religion, so he sends his bolts and rage upon us during the midsummer celebrations.
Perhaps we should try to find a way to make peace with the ancient Gods, and eventually, they will be kinder to us.
Well, hope you will have a great weekend and that you will enjoy the Summer solstice (or winter solstice if you live in the southern hemisphere) at its fullest.
Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Given the circumstances of Scandinavian weather, I'm all for "living it up" celebrating the Solstice.


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