The Finnish word for Midsummer is juhannus, actually a form of “John,” as in Saint John, whose feast day falls on or near the summer solstice. In Swedish, which is also an official language in Finland, the holiday is known simply as midsommar.
Finnish cities tend to empty out at Midsummer as people make for the countryside, seeking out summer cottages, lakes and Midsummer bonfires.
Video: Finland 100
Midsummer is very much a secular holiday, officially held on the Saturday between June 20 and 26, with roots that predate Christianity. Finnish cities tend to empty out as people make for the countryside, where there are summer cottages, lakes and Midsummer bonfires. (You can read more about Midsummer traditions and celebrations in our article.)
In the middle of the summer, the midnight sun circles the sky in the far north without setting for weeks on end, and even southern Finland doesn’t experience complete darkness. It can be a disorienting experience for those spending their first summer in Finland, but also an enchanting one. The magic of Finnish summer light always seems to have the same effect, no matter how many times you see it.
By Peter Marten, June 2018