Happy Finnish Midsummer! Hyvää Juhannusta!

Happy Finnish Midsummer!  Hyvää Juhannusta! Finnish Midsummer is a traditional Finnish Festival celebrated every year starting in mid-June. In Lapland, the Northernmost part of Finland, and throughout all of Finland, Finns celebrate this time of increased sunlight with parties and celebrations.  Drinking is common during Midsummer, and Finns enjoy drinking Ciders, Beers, Lagers, and Cocktails at their celebrations. Lapin Kulta  Midsummer is such a “big deal” in Finland because of the long, cold, solitary winters when there is no sunlight.  During the summer season, there is increased sunlight for almost 24 hours each day! It’s quite amazing.  During my time living in Finland I was only able to experience around a month or so of this phenomenon known as “The Midnight Sun”.  I left Finland in the month of May to return to the states.  However by May, the sun was already rising at 3 am and setting at around 10 or 11 pm.  The true “Midnight Sun” doesn’t begin until July.  In the most Northern city of Nuorgam closest to the Arctic Circle, the sun stays up for more than 70 days straight, so pretty much all summer.

Living in Finland with all that sunlight can prove to be quite difficult for a foreigner.  It creates problems with your sleep cycle, circadian rhythms, and you can feel out of sorts.  It’s a unique phenomenon.  Finns are used to dealing with it, and they have special shades to block out the light in order to get a restful sleep.  Other Finns make use of the extra light by becoming more active in the summer months and engaging in extra sports or recreation during this time.  Hiking, biking, running, and fishing are all great activities which can be done during the extra daylight hours.

Courtesy lonelyplanet.com

Courtesy lonelyplanet.com

The official start date of Midsummer is traditionally the first Saturday after June 19th, which is made official by Finnish labor organizations.  Finns use the Midsummer as a time to get away from civilization and they typically retreat to their summer cottages for a time of rest and relaxation. Average vacation time for Finns is normally at least 4 weeks, so it is typical that many companies and organizations are closed during this time, as most staff will take their annual vacation during Midsummer. In Finland all employees are entitled to  minimum of 30 paid vacation days, which doesn’t include Sundays.  In addition they get up to 14 paid public holidays annually!  I wish I could say that was true in America!

The beautiful natural landscapes of Finland are even more picturesque during Midsummer, especially the way the sun reflects over the many lakes in the region.  Many Finnish summer cottages ( Mökki) are right on the lake, so swimming and enjoying Saunas after swimming is also quite common.

Finnish Summer Cottage

Finnish Summer Cottage

The art of Barbecue is also common during Finnish Midsummer.  Grilling food outside by the lake is definitely a lot of fun!  Grilled Summer Sausage, Grilled Salmon, and Grilled Shrimp are all delicious treats to cook up for your midsummer holiday. Enjoying your sausage (makkara) with mustard (Sinappi) is absolutely mandatory to get the full effect!

I grilled up some makkara in Finland!

I grilled up some makkara in Finland!

Also see this article about Finnish Midsummer.

See more photos of my adventure cooking Makkara at Kaitalampi Park when I lived in Finland.

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