Midsummer – Keskikesä
Tomorrow (June 20th) is the longest day of the year in Finland and Sweden – midsummer. Midsummer is the main national holiday in Finland. On the longest day of the year, the sun in Helsinki, southern Finland rises at 03:54 am and sets at 10:50 pm, that means almost 19 consecutive hours of sunlight. Midsummer is the time of summer solstice.
Many Finns like to spend the midsummer in the countryside. People head for their cottages and summer cabins, leaving towns and cities deserted.
Almost 75% of the Finish population are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, which makes or used to make Midsummer a popular day for church confirmations and summer weddings.
An old tradition is burning bonfires to celebrate a great feast. In the old times, bonfires were burnt to dispel evil spirits and bad fortune or to enhance light and warmth and the fertility of domestic animals, crops and people. In modern Finland, bonfires are burned around midnight and everyone gathers to watch and to dance, sing and play games together.
In the old days, by performing magical rites people believed they could secure a better future for themselves, to ensure a good fortune for the household, an abundant crop and protect the livestock from illnesses.
There are various magical tasks and tricks for young girls (and boys) to perform on Midsummer Eve in order to know whether they would soon be married or to get a glimpse of their future spouse. One of these tasks is that a girl picks up seven or nine different species of wild flowers and places them under her pillow for the night. While sleeping, the face or the name of her future husband will be revealed for her in a dream.
What a wonderful way to celebrate the longest day of the year.