Light The Midsummer Bonfires

It sucks to be a vampire in the northern hemisphere this month.

Summer solstice, the longest day of the year, just passed on 20th of June.

But the Nightless Nights continue in Scandinavia, Siberia and Alaska. The sun barely sets at all.

We northern folks know how to take everything out of the rare moments with sun, and booze the living daylights out with abandon.

In Finland Midsummer’s Eve is a national free day (that’s today). Hurray!

As a result, it is one of our main drinking holidays besides May Day and New Year’s Eve.

For some reason Midsummer is also the day of the year with most boating accidents and deaths by drowning.

 

4 facts about Midsummer

1. In ye olde times bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits. They roamed freely in the world as the sun was turning southwards. Bonfires are still part of the tradition.

2. Christianity relabeled the old pagan holiday as the nativity of John the Baptist. As a result the day is called juhannus in Finnish.
John -> Johannes -> juhannus.

3. In later years Midsummer was supposedly the time when witches flew to a witch sabbat with their brooms to make deals with the Devil. In Sweden the sabbat place was Blåkulla and in Finland it was called Kyöpelinvuori.

4. Some Neopagans and Wiccans call Midsummer Litha. The holiday is named after the Anglo-Saxon months roughly corresponding to June and July (se Ærra Liþa and se Æfterra Liþa, the “early Litha month” and the “later Litha month”). Bonfires are also part of their fire festival.

 

How about you? Do you celebrate Midsummer in some way? What other summer festivals are there in your region? And does your family and friends have some special summer traditions?

8 Comments

  1. Nigel Blackwell
    Jun 22, 2012

    Hi Reetta

    It always seems weird to me that the solstice happens so close to the start of the summer season. Being in Texas summer’s been here a while by the time it officially starts. Enjoy your long days, you know the short ones are coming!

    Cheers!

    • Reetta Raitanen
      Jun 23, 2012

      Hi Nigel

      Thanks for visiting 🙂 You’re lucky in Texas as your summer starts so early. And yes, the summer days here are precious . Well, on the days we don’t complain about too much heat and mosquitos 😉 But the winter is coming soon….

  2. Rachel Funk Heller
    Jun 22, 2012

    Hi Reeta, your blog is so pretty! I love midsummer although I live out here in Hawaii where it is summer all year long. But I think we should take the time to remember the important events like the solstices and the equinoxes, it sort of puts the rest of the year in perspective. Have a great holiday and enjoy the bonfires.

    • Reetta Raitanen
      Jun 23, 2012

      Lucky you, Rachel. You’re living in many people’s dream place 🙂 And thanks. Have a lovely summer too.

  3. CC MacKenzie
    Jun 22, 2012

    Yes!

    My husband’s family comes from Wester Ross way up north in the north of Scotland. And two years ago we spent the solstice up there – it was amazing. They’ d had a fabulous summer, no rain. And they ‘ve not had it too bad this year either compared to the rest of us in the UK who’ve had monsoons.

    Enjoy your long days and make the most of it. You must post about how you cope with the winters. I know my husband’s family tend to fly to the Canary Islands for a couple of months to cope with it.

    • Reetta Raitanen
      Jun 23, 2012

      Your Scottish summer solstice celebration sounds awesome, CC. And lucky for the Scots to have a dry summer.

      We’ll definately frolick out and enjoy the sun. You have a wonderful summer too 🙂

      Good idea to write about winter survival. Canary Isles are a popular vacation spot in winter for Finns too. And there is a considerable amount of us living in Spain’s Costa del Sol, Europe’s equivalent of Florida.

  4. Lynn Kelley
    Jun 23, 2012

    I would love to see the Northern Lights someday. That would be awesome! I’m so glad summer is here. I live for spring and summer! Enjoy!
    Lynn Kelley recently posted..Ugly Foot Finds Its DoppelgangerMy Profile

  5. Karen McFarland
    Jun 23, 2012

    Reetta, I’m glad you are enjoying the summer season. I am fortunate. I live along the southern California coastline, so the wheather here is amazing year round. All we worry about are earthquakes. There is really no perfect place to live. Have a great summer Reetta! 🙂

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