Celebrating Midsummer Juhannus at Little Finland

On lookers enjoy the kokkotuli (bonfire) at Little Finland Saturday evening

Johannus a high point on the Finnish calendar comes exactly six months after Christmas, when the interminable nights of winter have given way to the white nights of the Finnish summer. In the north of Finland, Midsummer marks the peak of the exotic appeal of the Arctic, as the sun remains above the horizon all night.

Lighting a bonfire is the high point of Midsummer night. Originally, bonfires were only part of the eastern Finnish Midsummer In the Finnish midsummer celebration tradition, bonfires (kokko) are burnt at lakesides. celebrations.

Midsummer fires are lit all over Finland, except in the coastal areas that are the stronghold of the Swedish speaking Finns, these are supplanted by a maypole tradition, transferred from Sweden, and pickled herring. The origin and the meaning of this tradition is not exactly known, but there are some theories. According to one of them, the pole could have been a representation of Scandinavian fertility rites dating back to pagan times. Another theory is, that it was introduced to Scandinavia by Hanseatics in medieval times.

The history of Midsummer celebrations date back to pagan times. In East-Finland, it was called "the celebration of Ukko" (Ukko was the Finnish god of thunder, the most important of the Finnish gods, because he created rain, the essential ingredient for a good harvest).
When Finland was Christianized, the holiday was named after John the Baptist (Johannes) in order to give a Christian meaning to the pagan holiday.

Midsummer used to be celebrated on June 24, and before that, of course, it was governed by the exact day of the summer solstice.

In 1955, the Finnish government decided that Midsummer was reason enough to guarantee the work force a nice long weekend, and so ruled that the event would be celebrated on the Saturday between June 20 and 26 - turning the Friday into a a national day off for Midsummer's Eve.
The same is done in Sweden.

In Finland, Midsummer is also "Flag Day", it is the only day when the flag is allowed to be flown all night long, instead of being taken down at 9 pm, as is the norm.

At Little Finland as in Finland the celebration includes music

and dancing

and food

where people who brought their own instruments played on into the night

and where friends and family came together