Midsummer Day 2017 and 2018
Midsummer officially falls on the day of June 24th; however, in Finland, in 1955, the date was moved to ensure it fell on the first Saturday after June 19th.
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On Midsummer Day in Finland, which typically occurs in the third week of June, the people celebrate the fact that more sunshine is present during the day, and they officially kick off the summer season. The short, cold winter days are left behind, and the Finnish begin enjoying the long days of Nordic summer.
Although it is an old celebration, midsummer is still considered an important national festival in several countries, including Norway, Sweden, and Finland. The majority of Midsummer Day festivities in Finland occur on Midsummer Eve, which is the Friday before Midsummer Day. Much like Christmas Eve, Midsummer Eve is a public holiday, which means stores only remain open for a portion of the day.
The Meaning and Purpose of Midsummer Day
Midsummer Day also marks the summer solstice, which is the culmination of summer, as well as a turning point when the days start to get shorter in the northern hemisphere. The day of the summer solstice falls in between June 20th and June 22nd.
During this period, which is called polar days, the nights are light and short, while in regions that lie to the north of the Arctic Circle, the sun never falls below the horizon for several weeks. In Nuorgam, located at the northernmost point in Finland, the sun never sets between the mid portion of May and the end of July.
Past Celebrations of Midsummer Day in Finland
When Midsummer comes, once the spring sowing has passed, Finns in the past did not celebrate midsummer, but instead the feast of Ukko, which is the pagan Finnish god of growth, fertility, and weather. This feast continued until the Christian era, at which time June 24th was fixed to commemorate John the Baptist’s birth, which is the saint who eventually baptised Jesus.
Even though the Christian church has held celebrations on June 24th since the fifth century for John the Baptist’s birth, it is not considered a major festival in the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church. Instead, the recent celebration of Midsummer Day in Finland is a mix of Christian and pagan traditions.
What to Expect during the Midsummer Celebration in Finland
When Midsummer Day arrives, for many it marks the beginning of their summer holiday, which typically lasts for four weeks. In Finland, all workers, after their initial year of work, receive a minimum of 30 paid vacation days with Sundays excluded, as well as 14 public holidays each year.
On Midsummer Day, many Finns sleep in from the festivities the night before. When they do get up, they spend time outdoors, visit summer cottages, go sailing, and enjoy the brief period of sunshine and warmth the region receives.
If you are planning on visiting Finland on Midsummer Eve or Midsummer Day, make sure you are ready for a fun and festive atmosphere. Many people are outdoors for this celebration, and you can enjoy street fairs, food vendors, and an environment of frivolity.