As people in Finland enjoy the long Midsummer weekend holiday – with mostly hot weather this year – they’re taking part in annual rituals that signal the start of summer.
There’s trips to summer cottages, grilling sausages, going to sauna and swimming in lakes or the sea.
But many of those activities are relatively new additions to the schedule, and a hundred years ago in Finland, Midsummer would have seemed very familiar but also a bit different as well.
The Nordic tradition of celebrating Midsummer is a blend of Christianity, which came to Finland in the 1200s, and animism – with people finding meanings and rituals in the seasons, the weather, plants, rocks and animals around them.
“In the time of the Crusades which this formal religion of Christianity came, we were this uncivilised part of Eastern Sweden, but we had already the old god Ukko celebration, he was the god of thunder and weather and so these two combined together” explains Juha Nirkko, an expert from the Finnish Literature Society who has studied centuries-old texts about Finland’s Midsummer traditions.
“I think even