Finnish midsummer

Celebrating Finnish Midsummer

~A beautiful Finnish Midsummer day, a very special road trip, and a short hide-out at a traditional summer cottage-that’s all I am going to talk about in this post. If you already don’t know, ‘Doing Road Trips’ is my thing as I have explained in many of my previous posts and discussed how each time I am on a road trip I get different and better perspectives about my life. Without trying to be philosophical, let me just say, a road trip always makes me understand that the only constant in life is your passion. The rest of the things come and go. So don’t be surprised to read that the empty roads and the wildflowers have once again reinstated my passion for wandering and seeking small joys in life.~

This time the road took us to Kuru, a small village in the town of Ylöjärvi, about 50 kilometers from the city of Tampere. Kuru is actually famous for its proximity to Seitseminen National park which contains some of the most ancient and oldest forests in the country. After this very special escapade, I can easily say that living in Finland and experiencing the Finnish way of life has now come to a complete circle. One more thing and I can easily wrap up my stay here to go back to where I belong. This one thing I am yet to experience is, witnessing the Aurora with my very own eyes and hopefully capturing it in my camera.

I hope that life gives me this magic and I am ready to move on to wherever it takes me. Now, coming back to this very special experience, it was one of my top things to do in Finland and now that I have finally ticked it off I am as happy as a summertime Finn. Don’t take this as a silly pursuit because if you want to taste a slice of the Finnish life, you got to isolate yourself from the city (and the crowd) and lock yourself at a cottage as far as possible.

Helsinki-Tampere-Kuru-Seitseminen National Park

Finnish midsummer

These beautiful flowers called Lupiini (Lupine) are the most favourite of all the images associated with Finnish Midsummer. So if you want to see these beauties blooming in abundance in the Finnish wilderness then June is the month.

Finnish midsummer

Wildflowers

Ask me why? The answer may baffle you but you can’t stop feeling curious at the same time. The cottage life is almost a sacred institution for the Finns, especially in the summer, as it signifies the art of purposelessness. I can tell from my experiences that in a fast paced world it is sometimes important to slow down and do nothing. In short, it is a detox of the mind. For the body, every cottage has a sauna.

It definitely does not match the ideal concept of ‘celebration’ but this is how most of the Finns like to celebrate their festivals. So when the summer makes its short visit and it is time for Juhannus( Midsummer), the second biggest celebration of the year after Christmas, the ideal thing to do is to disappear into the cottages.

So we did the same thing to experience the art of doing absolutely nothing!

Finnish midsummer

This cottage was tucked in this sleepy village called Kuru.

Finnish midsummer

The life at the cottage

Finnish midsummer

Inside the cottage-the sauna and the hall

If you have read my previous story on all the Finnish traits I love then you already know that life in Finland is quiet, calm and comes with lots of personal spaces. For the same reason, escaping into the wild is not always necessary. However, there is something absolutely magical in syncing yourself with nature and its elements like fire & water. Lots of food cooked over a barbecue, listening to the sound of water lapping in the lake, and watching the midnight sun were the highlights of my trip to the summer cottage. They call it the white summer night and to witness the longest day of the year in this magnificent country is so magical that I am 100% sure about my camera not doing any justice to it.

The lake by the cottage

Finnish midsummer

In search of tranquility

Finnish midsummer

The ideal Finnish life

Finland’s location (the Arctic Circle) makes the nights around the Midsummer Day very short or almost non-existent. This makes only sense that for a country that witnesses polar nights and a very long winter celebrating the light is the most important thing. According to the legends, Midsummer night is the most potent night that has magical powers to ward off evil spirits, attract good fortune, and impress the gods of fertility. There are so many interesting stories around the Midsummer traditions that I will have to write another post later.

For now, let me just mention that if an unmarried woman collects seven different flowers and places them under her pillow the Midsummer night, she will dream of her future husband. Also, the name “Juhannus”(meaning Midsummer in Finnish) originated from John the Baptist (“Johannes” in Finnish), who’s birthday (and commemoration) is celebrated in Midsummer.

Finnish midsummer

The magic of the wild

Finnish midsummer

Jumping into the lake after the sauna is the most favourite activity of the Finns irrespective of the season.

The traditions related are mostly pagan even if Finland is a Christian country. This is because Finland and all the other Nordic countries have important Pagan traditions dating back to the beginning of time which not only give them distinct identities but also explain a lot about their way of life. In older times, the principal god was the god of thunder and the sky named as Ukko and the festival of ‘Juhannus’ was also called Ukon Juhla (Ukko’s celebration) as a mark of celebrating the deity. No wonder, the bonfire is most important ritual related to the festival as in most of the pagan celebrations.

We surely did observe the traditional sausage fest and a sauna marathon at the cottage but I wish the weather god were kinder to us. When you have four days of summer to count and the rain god appears, it takes away half the fun. Anyhow, we had a fireplace to keep us cozy inside.

Also, a quick trip to the nearby Seitseminen National Park was totally worth venturing out of the cozy feel of the cottage. The worst thing about a walk in the forest is the mosquitoes and all the other insects. So one needs to go prepared with mosquito repellents and other first aids.

Finnish midsummer

Seitseminen National Park

Finnish midsummer

For Finnish people a trip to the cottage can mean only one thing-favourite activities with the loved one

So this is how I got to witness the most beautiful side of Finland during the Midsummer. I must say that this summer I learnt secrets of finding tranquility the Finnish way.

The art of purposelessness is not very difficult to practice after all. But the summer is only half way through its visit. I still have lot more to explore. So long, empty road and wildflowers!

P.S: I didn’t get a chance to click any picture of the traditional Midsummer bonfire or the Midnight sun as the weather was very cloudy but here are a few pictures taken by my friend Alin which he clicked in a summer cottage in Lappeenranta. Alin is such a talented photographer that I decided not to post his pictures first so that mine wouldn’t look so dull.  A big ‘thank you’ and a hug to him for letting me use his pictures. 

Finnish midsummer

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Copyright @ Alin Marian

Have you ever been to a summer cottage in Finland. Do share your views and experiences.

 

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