Saturday, June 25, 2016

Happy Juhannes!


Juhannes - midsummer night, a celebration of the shortest night (which got Christianized as an event honoring John the Baptist, thus the name) was celebrated here in Helsinki on the evening of the 24th and the 25th. As the young woman at the tourist office said, this holiday is as important as Christmas. Flower crowns are worn and most are delightfully wild. 

The city begins to shut down on the Thursday before. Buses run weekend schedules, stores close by no later than 2 on Friday and most people leave town to a cottage up north, to cook out, sauna, drink and have a bonfire. 

Here in the city, the "outdoor museum" on Seurasaari Island, presents a celebration that is steeped in history and is very family friendly. 

Costumed musicians, singers and dancers perform. The woman to the right of the accordion is playing the bird call. 


There is plenty of opportunity for the visitors to get involved, as in the "may pole" dance. And it wouldn't be Finland without some metal representation.


Tourists welcome! 


Each year since 1954, a couple has wed at the historic church among family and friends, dined at the historic vicarage, then joined the crowd to dance their first waltz.


Yes, they wear period clothing. 
Meanwhile a number of bonfires are lit near the shore as a flotilla of observers view the flames from their boats and paddle boards. 

The biggest fire is set ablaze by the happy couple, who are rowed to the place on a rocky outcropping in an 18th century style boat.


You can see that, while this island feels a million miles away, it's really right in the city. Bus 24. 
(Photo taken about 10:15. It never gets truly dark this time of year.) 


And so the days get shorter and we head back to pack for our return home. 







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