The Longest Day of the Year…
Today is summer solstice, a.k.a midsummer, or juhannus as we call it in Finland. What it means is that up till now the days have been getting longer. And now they will be getting shorter again, a little bit every day.
Early summer is what we call the ‘white nights‘ and the ‘midnight sun‘ season. In the north (= Lapland), the sun won’t set at all at the moment, not until late July. Here in Helsinki, sunset is just before 11 pm and sunrise just before 4 am. But, it doesn’t really get dark at night; it’s more like 5 hours of twilight. And of course you can’t see any stars in the night sky. Not until late July, that is.
But midsummer is also a major holiday. And, above all, it’s a very Finnish holiday: ideally spent away from the city, in the countryside with friends and/or family. No distractions; just sauna and barbecue. And bonfires. And partying all night.
In the old days, Midsummer was the time of magic. Young maidens would be casting all sorts of love spells to see who their future husband would be. This usually involved gathering flowers and rolling around naked in the field.
These days running around naked tends to be an activity reserved for young, urban men, though. And it has nothing to do with Midsummer but is usually related to ice hockey…
The magic of Midsummer today is different. Midsummer marks the start of summer holiday season. It’s time to take a break from work and the daily grind. It’s time to slow down and enjoy the moment.
And what will I be doing at Midsummer? Well, I’m a city girl, so the mosquitos in the countryside won’t be feasting on me this year, either. And I don’t care for large crowds or drunken people, so I’ll skip the parties and festivals. And, given that this is the start of my summer holiday after a very intense period of working, I think I need some rest more than anything.
So, I’ll be staying in the city, enjoying some peace and quiet. Yes, you read that right: at Midsummer the city is practically empty, apart from some bewildered tourists wondering why all the shops are closed and the locals seem to have vanished into thin air. I think it’s just perfect.
Are you celebrating Midsummer?
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Your idea of staying in the city is an excellent one. That’s what I would do. It’s been raining here all week so today is no different. Summer solstice forgot us! I picture it to be nice and sunny but unfortunately it’s not. Have a nice, restful day and enjoy the peace and quiet. Arlene from NJ
Thanks, Arlene! We had wonderful weather for Midsummer: warm and sunny but not too hot, and the city was nice and quiet, too. But at least there were a few restaurants still open.