Marja-Leena Rathje
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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!

Marja-Leena | 21/06/2010 | 12 comments
themes: Culture, Finland, Estonia & Finno-Ugric


Hauskaa juhannusta, Marja-Leena! We have all clear skies. Our latitude is "63, so sun kinda dips down under the horizon and comes back up in full blast at 3 in morning.

When I was younger I could be without going to sleep at all for three days in a row around Midsummer, now I find it hard that the light wakes me up, as well as Lidia-cat who thinks that as the sun is up it's also her meal-time. She bites my nose...

I live in Vaasa, which can be seen even in the map. The archipelago all the way to Umeå to Sweden is Unesco's wolrd inheritance site. Waters are clean here, well, not like in the 30's but better than down South in Baltic.

But it's cold, so even if I had a boat, I would not go out to the very cold sea. Temparatures are ranging between 10-14 Centigrade (do you have Fahrenheits over there), but toward the Midsummer it should be getting a bit warmer, up to 23 C, but with rain.

You know, the summer solstice always makes me sad, because the days start getting much shorter, colder, and wetter from here on out. Still, we've had an incredible summer so far though...I spent most of it in my studio and then it started raining right after the opening and rained for several weeks! By the way, I love your photo above, it's very mystical.

Julia, thanks! Do the Czechs celebrate the solstice in any way?

Hei Ripsa! I remember a visit to my late aunt's in Vaasa in 2000 (and again in 2002 for my exhibition there). We went for a walk in the woods near her place one evening in early July I think it was. The sun was low in the sky the whole time and we were surprised that it was around 11 pm and still so light! So lovely, that light! The furthest north we have ever been is to Kärsämäki which I think is latitude 64. I've always wanted to go to Finnish Lapland for the solstice!

Elise, I know what you mean, yet I fondly remember the lovely long days and short nights of the north. We lived in Fort St. John, northeast BC for almost five years - that's latitude 56, and I think Juneau is 58? I'm sad that we didn't make it up to the Yukon and Alaska in those years for we are now so very much farther away.

I think your current rainy weather has been duplicated down here in Vancouver this spring! And thanks, the photo was taken near Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island exactly a month ago. I thought it suited the subject today, since the weather here hasn't produced such a spectacular scene for me today!

Happy solstice Marja! Already there's a part of me counting the days down till autumn come.

Cathy, thanks! Oh, do let's enjoy the summer that's just starting! I know when it gets too hot and dry that I'll start longing for fall but we haven't had too many days like that in Vancouver yet.

Happy Midsummer, juhannus.. " mittumaari ", Marja-Leena.. we`ll leave the town and celebrate the midsummer by the sea with our friends.

Leena, thanks and the same to you! So, Juhannus is late this year since it is celebrated on the weekend after the actual solstice. "Mittumaari" is a new word for me, presumably slang for midsummer or midsommer (Swedish)? Have a fabulous vacation by the sea!

May the longest day of the year bring you much pleasure and cheer! Happy Solstice, Marja-Leena!

Thanks, R, and a virtual toast to summer with some of your delicious ale!

I wonder if it's the cultural mix of Canada and North America in general that has allowed people to drift away from the old Solstice celebrations? Of course, electricity could have a lot to do with it too.

Happy Summer.

Susan, emigrants probably just leave a lot of the old traditions behind, especially if they are mixing with groups that don't have those traditions. When I was growing up with a small Finnish community in Winnipeg, we'd celebrate in a small way. But I haven't since.... other than this online nod since I started blogging. Happy summer to you too!