Tag Archives: Juhannus

Vappu and Juhannus- could there be more finnish way to celebrate?

Finnish people are said to be quite calm and quiet people. But they do know how to party, at least a couple of times during the year! Here´s a couple of examples:

1st of May. That´s when the spring and “early summer” officially starts, no matter what. The actual weather doesn´t mean a thing when thousands and thousands of people wander to parks to have a picnic after previous night´s massive celebration.

(1st of May celebrants in the center of Helsinki)

But what do people celebrate every year? First of all it marks the end of long winter. After months of darkness and cold it is time to come out from caves and celebrate the light and coming summer! And really, the actual weather on 1st of May doesn’t mean a thing at all. It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining or it´s raining wet snow, people still go out to have a picnic or at least on marches that are held on that day across Finland.

1st of May, Vappu in finnish, is the celebration of the workers and that´s why the name ”Labour day”. can be used also. It has been a political celebration, specially in 1970s among the left wing party. Political climate has changed during the decades and now the most visible group of celebrants are the students with their colourful overalls and white student caps. You can see those caps on other people´s heads also, it is traditional and annual way of celebrate your high school graduation.

(Student celebrants on 1 st of May)

Vappu means a lot to finnish people. It gives us ”the permission” to start to enjoy the spring and summer, go out and hug the world once again. It´s not just an event, it´s a happening that you have explore! 😊

 

If Vappu is the celebration of the end of coldness and darkness, the summer officially starts with Midsummer Festival- Juhannus! It is held during 21st-23th of June every year. While people march on streets and gather together into parks on Labour Day, Juhannus is the time when most of us go to cottages with family and friends, have a sauna, swim in the lake and grill sausages. But traditionally there´s a lot of bonfires that are lit across the country to gather people to be together for a moment and enjoy the Midsummer´s nightless night. One of bonfire´s original reasons was to keep bad spirits away from the area, today it is assumingly more an old tradition that people want to keep alive.

(Bonfires are traditional way to celebrate the Midsummer´s Eve)

(Summer cottage is probably the most popular place to spend Midsummer´s celebration)

Nowadays many big music festivals are being held during 21st-23th of June and those parties are really popular specially among younger people. Finland is a country of thousands of lakes, but sea is very important to many people also. Traditions vary a bit depending what part of Finland you are while Midsummer, but the most important tradition is to gather family and friends together and celebrate the relatively short summer, light and warmth that is happening. Even if it´s not that warm.. It might be the summer weather with 25 degrees and sunshine or 5 degrees with cold rain during Juhannus, but once again, that´s not the point. Finnish people love traditions and if it said that summer officially starts on 21st of June, then it starts, no matter what. 😊

 

 

 

 

Midnight sun and Polar night

In Finland we are so lucky to have four seasons. To me winter and summer are especially the ones that comes to mind when thinking Finnishness. These are the opposite of one another and we as Finns are very different in these two seasons. I am going to focus on these two seasons in my post.

Midnight sun – “Yötön yö”

During summertime in Finland we can enjoy light around the clock and that is what midnight sun describes. In Lapland there are times when sun does not go down at all. In the Southern of Finland, we are not that lucky, and the sun does go down, but the sun will rise again quite quickly. In my opinion Finnishness is very different in every Finn during summer compared to what Finnishness is in the winter. Finns are more open, more smiling and talks to one another.

As summer is the season when Finns likes to spend more time with each other – we have a summer celebration called “juhannus” which is Midsummer in English. This celebration is spent in the middle of the summer. Most Finns have their own traditions in Midsummer. The most traditional things that belong to Midsummer are Midsummer bonfire, sauna (of course) and a birch whisk used in sauna. I think that Midsummer is the most Finnishness celebration we have in Finland.

Polar night – “Kaamos”

Polar night is the opposite of Midnight sun. Polar night is experienced during the winter and actually it can only be experienced in Lapland. Although this phenomenon is only in Lapland, in Southern of Finland there is also very dark in the winter months. Kaamos begins in the end of November – in the beginning of December and ends in the end of December – in the middle of January – depending on which part of Lapland you are staying. In 2017 Polar night in Nuorgam started on 24th November and it ended on 17th January. Although it sounds bad and maybe even a bit depressing that the sun will not rise once – there is a time during the daytime when it is not that dark. On top of that, snow lightens the view. During Polar night you can enjoy the Finnish nature by skiing, skating or watching the northern lights. Despite of the lack of sunshine this time of the year can be beautiful as you can see from the picture below.