14.2 Midsummer

In Scandinavia the midsummer festival is regarded as one of the most important festivals of the year. The festival takes place at the time of the summer soltice which occurs on the 20., 21. or 22. of june. Mostly the festival is carried out on a saturday between the 20. And the 26. of june. Originally the festival was celebrated on the 24. of june in honour of John the Baptist. The today’s midsummer festival, except the swedish one, still refers to the christian festival. Each scandinavien country has its own traditions. Typically the scandinaviens celebrate midsummer on the country with friends and familiy. Traditonal food and a lot of alcohol are an important part of the festival. Although it is forbidden the flag of every country stays hoised during the night.
The swedish midsummer festival resembles the german ‚ÄěMaibaumfest‚Äú. A tree trunk is raised and decorated with flowers and leaves. Afterwards the people dance around the tree. The girls often wear white or floral dresses and girdle of flowers in the hair. The tradiontional food consists out of potatoes, herring, sour cream, crispbred and strawberries with whipped cream. In the past the Swede thought that the forests are magic in the night of midsummer. Elfs and trolls could be seen. Moreover the morning dew is said to be able to heal sick animals and people. Therefore the Swede collect the morning dew to bake bread out of it. Another legend called ‚Äě Seven Flowers‚Äú says that the unwed girls shall collect seven flowers and put these under their pillow. In the follwing night the future husband will appear in their dreams.
The Danish and the Norwegians celebrate the so-called ‚ÄěSankt-Hans‚Äú festival in the evening of the 23. of june before the day of John the Baptist. During the festival a big fire is sparked which the Danish and Norwegians use to burn a witch made of straw. This symbolises the banishment of evil spirits. Meanwhile a lot of folk songs are sung. Afterwards an audience is addressed.
In Finland the festival is called ‚ÄěJuhannus‚Äú and is always celebrated on a Saturday. The original name of the midsummer festival was ‚ÄěVakkahjuhla‚Äú (Festival of basket) or ‚Äě Ukon juhla‚Äú (Festival of Ukko). Ukko is said to be the god of weather, crop and thunder. The Finn mostly spend the weekend on the country in summer cottages for fishing and having a sauna and barbecue with their friends and family. On the eve of the festival the cities are nearly derserted. The houses and summer cottages are decorated with bushes of flowers and branches of birchs. Considered as an inherent part of the festival a bonfire is sparked on glades and lakefronts. According to the legend the fire, celebrating and drinking banish evil spirits. An old explanation says that the crop will be better the more the peolpe drink on midsummer. Today the Finn and the other Scandinaviens still drink a lot. Consequently there are many fatal accidents. In Finland up to 20 people die every year. Since a couple of years many music festivals and events take place on midsummer.
The midsummer festival with its different traditions plays an important role for the Scandinaviens. It is eagerly anticipated and hilariosly celebrated every year.