28.05.2018

Finland - Land of the Midnight Sun


This year, the International Oral History Association (IOHA) 2018 Congress will be held from June 18 to June 21, which is just before Finns celebrate Midsummer, June 22–23. Midsummer is a national holiday in Finland. On Midsummer Eve (June 22) and Midsummer Day (June 23), most stores are closed and the Finns leave for their summer cottages. This means that the city centers will be virtually deserted. So if you plan to stay in Finland after the conference, you should take into account that all services will be limited and travelling from one place to another can be difficult during Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day.

In Helsinki there is a public Midsummer party on Seurasaari (which we recommend) and in small towns there are numerous music festivals for young people. For more information about celebrating Midsummer around Jyväskylä, contact the City of Jyväskylä’s Tourist Information Office.

Midsummer is a time of light in the Northern hemisphere. Midsummer days are long in Finland and it never gets completely dark during the night. In Lapland, which is the Northern part of Finland located above the Arctic Circle, the Midsummer sun lingers on the horizon all night. So IOHA will offer you a great opportunity to experience the long summer days in Finland.

Midsummer traditions

Midsummer celebrations date back hundreds of years. According to Finland. A Cultural Encyclopedia (1997, 83–84) “Midsummer’s Day, the feast day of John the Baptist and Finland’s Flag Day, has been one of the most important days in Lutheran calendar. The festival is celebrated on the Saturday that falls between 20th June and 26th June. Many of the customs associated with Midsummer's Day derive from the pre-Christian and pan-European festival of light and fertility that marked the summer solstice. The burning of the Midsummer kokko (‘bonfire’), originally a tradition linked, in the north and east of the country, with beliefs concerning fertility, cleansing and the banishing of evil spirits, has in the 20th century spread throughout Finland. It has become the central element in the programme of commercial Midsummer festivities, along with music and dance. Homes are decorated with flowers and birch branches. A Midsummer pole reminiscent of an ornamental sailing mast is part of the Finland-Swedish tradition of southern Finland and Åland. Flags are raised at 6 am. on Midsummer’s Eve and lowered only at 9 pm. on the night of the following day. Midsummer delicacies include pancakes, new potatoes and salmon.”

References

Hildi Hawkins & Päivi Vallisaari (eds.) 1997. Finland. A Cultural Encyclopedia. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, pp. 83–84.

Further information about Midsummer in Finland, please visit

The Official Travel Guide of Finland
Visit Jyväskylä Tourist Information