MIDSUMMER HISTORY & TRADITIONS
Summer solstice in the Nordic regions
Summer solstice is typically celebrated on the evening on the 23rd of June and goes by the name of Sankt Hans Aften. The festivities are marked by the burning of bonfires, sometimes with a "witch", and takes place close to water. You will find families and freinds located across the beaches and lake areas on this evening singing rraditional songs, enjoying picnics filled with delicious food &drinks, and watching the burning of the bonfire. Bonfires were symbols of abundance and they were lit to keep evil and bad spirits away.
Juhannus is the modern-day name for the summer solstice in Finland. Families and friends tend to gather in the country side and go fishing and enjoy barbequing. The sun and the fire element are important and many light bonfires and bathe I saunas. Old pagan name for Juhannus was Ukon Vakat. It was the celebration to honor Ukko the thunder god. Ukko can create lightnings and he is the god of fire, therefore, fire is the element of summer solstice.
The summer solstice is an incredible time of year in the land of the midnight sun where the hot spring blows, with endless days full of energy and mystical powers. The day is celebrated on June 24th, and is known as Jónsmessa (St. John's Mass) and is a powerful night for magical activity. This is the time of year you might run into elves if you find yourself sitting on a crossroad and some animals tend to get up to all sorts of things. Cows gain speech on this night and seals throw off their skin and become human. Magic is all around with magical herbs being potent and wishing stones to be found, and if you roll in the dew naked that night, it is said that it will cure all your ails.
St. Hans Aften or Jonsok-kveld is celebrated on the evening of June 23rd with huge bonfires, plenty of food and drinks while people sing and dance next to the burning bonfire. It was believed that the fire had special cleansing powers, and also used to drive away evil powers, witches included. Dew that falls on this night is believed to have special healing properties and medicinal herbs are especially powerful on this evening!
Often celebrated out in the countryside, many Swedes gather with their family and friends to celebrate the Midsummer together. The event takes place on a Friday between June 19 and June 25, depending on the year. The typical Midsummer party is an ongoing party where people wear flower wreaths in their hair, eat delicious food, and drink plenty of beverages while singing together and having a good time. At a certain point during the festivities, the famous Maypole is raised in an open area for guests to dance around.