the longest day


Disappointingly dull cloudy weather today for the solstice. Nevertheless I wax nostalgic at this time of year, every year, so I reread my past posts about this very important, ancient Nordic tradition. My favourites, if you care to visit them, are:

a midsummer fest, 2009
white nights, 2008
midsummer nights, 2005

And, if you have wondered: why it’s the longest day of the year–but not the hottest.
Hauskaa Juhannusta! Happy solstice, all!

Added June 23rd, 2010:I knew that Midsummer is, or used to be, an official holiday in some countries, but did not know that it is also a public holiday in Quebec!

In Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Quebec (Canada), the traditional Midsummer day, June 24, is a public holiday. So it was formerly also in Sweden and Finland, but in these countries it was, in the 1950s, moved to the Saturday between June 20 and June 26. ….from Wikipedia

Here is a notice from Helsingin Sanomat about what will happen in Finland as the country starts to shut down:

Just a brief advance warning for anyone who is unaware of it, but this coming weekend signals the Midsummer celebrations in Finland, and will bring with it certain restrictions on shop opening-hours and transport schedules, as well as marking the start of the summer vacation season for many.

P.S. Just in case anyone is wondering why the Summer Solstice is being celebrated a bit late, the concept of Midsummer in Finland is associated with the saint’s day of St. John the Baptist (hence Juhannus, the Finnish name for it), and since 1955 the holiday has always been celebrated on a Saturday falling between June 20th and June 26th. Earlier it was held on June 24th, or St. John’s Day.

Midsummer Eve is quite as important as the day itself, and given the long distances often involved in travelling to the summer cottage a good many people choose to take Thursday off as well. Traffic volumes on Thursday and Friday reach an annual peak, and long lines are to be expected at traditional bottlenecks.

The return on Sunday is not usually so congested on the roads, as many people take this weekend as the starting-signal for their summer holidays and stay in the countryside for the duration.

Sadly, Midsummer also involves a good deal of drinking, and given the amount of water in this country, it also often sees a spike in the number of accidental drownings, either through people falling out of boats or overestimating their swimming prowess in waters that can still be quite chilly at this time of year. Please take care.

So there you go, the 21st version of a pagan-Christian blend celebration!

June 21, 2010 in Culture, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric by Marja-Leena