Friday, 20 June 2014

Finnish Midsummer...

One of my biggest loves about living as an expat in a foreign country is when you get to experience the different cultures and traditions of the place you are currently calling home. I must admit, Ramadan in Qatar last year was tough; however it was a new experience all the same. 

This year I am privileged enough to be living in Finland during the Finnish Midsummer, or Juhannus as the Finns call it. From speaking to some of the locals here, it is clear to see that the Midsummer festival is a pretty big deal! It's a celebration which marks the longest day of the year, and gives the Finns and visitors alike; the opportunity to make the most of the sun lighting up the night sky. As for this time of year, the sun barely skims the horizon, before creeping back up again to shed light on the beautiful Finnish landscape. Not wanting to lower the tone too much, but staggering home from a night out is made all the more fun when you can actually see where you are going! 

So, what does this Midsummer event actually entail? It is believed that the Midsummer night is a night of magic and is apparently a night where possibilities are endless in terms of looking for love. So single ladies, grab your plane tickets now! I've also heard that young women will often pick a dandelion and place it under their pillow, in the hope that they will dream of their true love. Each to their own and all that! 

Besides hoping to find a decent guy or two, the night skies are filled with the light from bonfires and the barbeques are fired up, because who doesn't love a burger? Everything grinds to a halt as the Finns ditch their urban lives and pack off to the countryside in villas and cabins and do what Finnish people are great at... drinking obscene amounts of alcohol. Well played Finland! And of course, how could I forget, relax in a traditional Finnish sauna, (pronounced sow-na - ow as in the word cow) but don't worry, you don't have to do as the Finns do and strip off. A towel will suffice. 

This is the biggest and most popular celebration in Finland, with many shops and small businesses closing for the whole weekend; some even for a few weeks. That's probably the only downside to this quirky festival. If you really get a Ben & Jerry's craving mid-weekend, you're just going to have to suck that one up until the shops reopen. 

As for me, I'm going to head on down to a public event on the beach and soak up some of the traditional atmosphere. (And no doubt try to give the Finns a run for their money in the alcohol stakes!) 

For all those celebrating, have a wonderful Midsummer and who knows what the magical night will bring? 



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