Midsummer! The crown of the whole summer for the Finns, and the weekend that everyone is waiting for. So too the thousands of Finns living abroad who travel back to their birth country just for midsummer—Just like us this year, and last year too. It is not only because while living abroad the whole concept of the nightless night gets a whole new meaning, but also that is the time when most Finns are vacationing. While visiting Finland, we want to spend time with our family and friends.
There are also a number of traditions for celebrating midsummer in Finland, and they vary a bit around the country. We have always spent our midsummer weekends at our summer house by the Gulf of Bothnia. Birch trees were brought to both sides of the door as a decoration, and many delicious foods were prepared.
By living near the coast, we always had plenty of fish and sea food, but more so, midsummer is also all about barbequeing. My mom used to bake some donuts and strawberry cake. We almost always had some guests to help us eat it all. The sauna was heated up and in between visits, one would jump into the chilly ocean to cool off.
When I was younger, we also tried some Midsummer spells with some friends. They are a fun part of the midsummer traditions in Finland. There are so many of them, but at here are some known in the area where I am from:
THE BEST SPELLS OF THE FINNISH NIGHTLESS NIGHT
Out of many, many Midsummer spells, I remember the best this one, where you count the cuckoo calls. It was easy to do at our summer place, because you could here the cuckoo often. If you hear the cuckoo calling in the Midsummer night, you can count how many years it takes for you to meet your future spouse.
The most famous of the spells must be the one, where you have to find seven different flowers from seven different fields, and sleep with the flowers under your pillow during Midsummer night. During the night you will see your future spouse in your dreams. I think I tried this one too when I was younger, but I don’t remember having any dreams that night.
If you find a spring from the forest on Midsummer night and look into it naked, you will see your future spouse looking back from the water. This one might be harder to do, as it is not so easy to find natural springs in Finnish forests.
One of the funniest Midsummer spells must be the one where after going to sauna, you walk backwards until you hit a pile of fire wood. Then you check what kind of a log you hit. If it is a whole one, you will get married. If it is split in half, you will fall in love with a married man.
In the Finnish sauna people use a bundle of birch branches to help the blood circulate. You will gently pat yourself or your friend with this “saunavihta”. After going to sauna on midsummer night you can throw the saunavihta onto the roof of the sauna, and see which direction your future husband will arrive from. He will come from where the handle of the vihta is pointing to.
If you want good luck in marrying, you should find a field with morning dew on midsummer night and roll around in it naked.
So there! Now everyone can try these spells and see if they work. Just remember that it has to be Midsummer night when the Sun is out all night! I’m glad that I am already married, so I don’t have to try these anymore. Instead, we have been enjoying the company of my family and friends, eating and recovering from the jet lag. We did visit some some friends at their summer place and did our Midsummer sauna and swim.
Have a lovely Midsummer everyone!