Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Some Juhannus (Midsummer) Photos

Juhannus is the major holiday of the Finnish summer. For many, the holiday begins on Thursday afternoon when they get off work, since most people have Friday off. Midsummer's Eve always falls on a Friday in Finland (how convenient), providing a three-day weekend.

Originally a pagan fertility festival, eventually commandeered by the Christians, Juhannus was for some time a Saint's day dedicated to John the Baptist. Nowadays it is mainly a holiday during which Finns welcome the summer with an extreme binge drinking, music festivals, and grilled meat products. If a family has a summer cabin, that is most likely where you will find them during the Juhannus holiday.

A traditional Juhannus will include Juhannus sauna (of course), a kokko (bonfire)intended to drive away evil spirits, and less commonly in modern Finland, a bit of Juhannus magic, which usually has the purpose of divining a single young person's future spouse. These typically involved the use of sauna, wildflowers, and or nudity. Nowadays this type of magic is usually limited to girls collecting 7 different types of wildflowers and putting them under their pillow just before going to sleep. The man they dream of will supposedly be their future husband.

I've chosen to avoid the standard Juhannus photo subjects for this post.

A field of niittyleinikki flowers, also known as meadow buttercups (Ranunculus acris)

I like to stack stones. It's been an occasional hobby of mine for decades. These particular stones are on the shore of Lake Lappajärvi.

Kurjenmiekka (translation is rather nice - the crane's sword) or yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus).

A honey bee doing its work.

Another Ranunculus, this time perhaps a creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)? If so, in Finnish it would be rönsyleinikki. If I'm wrong about the identification of this species, I hope that someone will let me know.

Barbecue. There are no rib shacks in Finland, and the restaurants that try to make them right always fail. The same goes for shrimp. Usually if they are to be found on a menu, they are covered with some sort of goopy sauce. Sometimes when you want things done right you just have to do it yourself.


  1. Beautiful pictures. Only you come too late for the girl's magic description; I wish I had known it a week earlier and tried it :)

  2. ahh yes ribs...
    i have a good recipe for ribs on my blog (korean marinade) of course you can tweak it to how ever you wish..
    mustikka mehu