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Finland - Midsummer Eve/St. John's Eve

Description Before 1316, the summer solstice was called Ukon juhla, after an old Finnish god Ukko. In Karelia, people had many bonfires side by side, the biggest of which was called Ukko-kokko (the "bonfire of Ukko"). At present the midsummer holiday is known as Juhannus, or midsommar for the Swedish-speaking minority, and is the year's most notable occasion for drunkenness and revels.

Most of Finland burns bonfires (kokko) at lakesides and eats smoked fish from the same lakes. In the coastal areas that are the stronghold of the Finland-Swedish, these are supplanted by a maypole tradition transferred from Sweden and pickled herring.

When Finland was Christianized, the holiday was named after John the Baptist (Johannes) in order to give a Christian meaning for the pagan holiday. The traditions, however, remained quite unchanged and survive in modern-day Finland although they have lost their original purposes.
Date Fri, June 23, 2006
Repeat Type Yearly
Priority 5-Medium
Access Public
Category Religious Holiday*, National Holiday*
Created by Gary Hill
Updated Mon, June 23, 2008 5:46am GMT
Participants National Holidays
Attachments None
Comments None