Nordic Midsummer Traditions and the Charm of Seven Flowers

For Nordics, the Midsummer is a magical time. Dancing around the bonfire, casting night spells, and gathering seven flowers to discover your future husband – sorry guys, the ladies get so much more out of Nordic Midsummer time.

Midsummer’s Day, the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. We have here in the South of Finland only less than two hours of twilight that night. In the up North Finland, at the North end of the Northern Hemisphere, there is the Midnight Sun. The sun does not set at all on Midsummer’s Eve, making this time of year the time of light and dreams.

How to have a Nordic Midsummer in Finnish style

The Midsummer celebrations are on the weekend between the 20th and 26th of June in Nordic Countries in Northern Europe.

In the pagan times, before Christianity and the day of Saint John, where comes the Finnish name “juhannus“, the Midsummer time was a celebration for Ukko the god of the weather to ensure good weather and good harvest of the year. Somehow happily these two feasts merged, like so many other pagan and Christian celebrations have, over the years. Now in the present day, it is marked as a Christian Holiday in our calendars.

A glossary of the important Finnish words for Midsummer Celebrations.

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There are a few characteristic things for juhannus and certain Midsummer traditions that you can try out and celebrate a Nordic Midsummer the way the Finns do – and well, the Swedish Midsummer (midsommar in Swedish) is quite similar too!

Dandelion Flower wreath.

1. Tie a Midsummer flower wreath and decorate a maypole

Nordic Midsummer starts with flowers. Many girls tie the flower wreaths or flower crowns. Nowadays these are the days when Instagram feeds fill up with happy photos of girls wearing flower wreaths. You may have seen what I have posted on @blue.tea.tile, and I’m not the only Nordic girl tying a flower wreath, kukkaseppele, this time of year I swear.

The Maypole or Midsummer Pole (juhannussalko) traditions are more in the west of Finland for it is a more Swedish tradition than a Finnish one. On Midsummer families put up a pole like a mast of a ship, that is fully covered and decorated with flower garlands and greenery. There is folk dancing and people with traditional costumes dance around the Maypole.

Juhannustanssit, the dances of the Midsummer with traditional Finnish Music that gathers people of all ages. Even the younger generations have started to wait for the dances on this national holiday. These fun and joyful dances are arranged mostly in smaller villages or allotment gardens in the capital area. The dances might last a long time for the long hours of daylight encourage Finns to stay up all night.

2. Collect seven flowers to predict your future husband

On Midsummer Eve Nordic girls gather a bouquet of wild flowers to do the Midsummer charms (juhannustaiat) to find out their future husbands. So pick up seven flowers and tie them with a lovely ribbon. They should be seven different flowers, otherwise, it won’t work! When you go to sleep, hide them under your pillow to see your husband in your dreams on the Midsummer night. If not this year, maybe better luck next time.

Some believe that if you don’t speak when picking up the flowers and you do everything backward and jump over seven fences when picking the seven flowers you double the chances. And this is the modest version. There are stories about young women dancing naked on the fields on a Midsummer night and looking into a well to see their future husband’s face looking lovingly.

Well – if you are desperate, go for it!

But if you are the lucky one and have a groom picked out already – get married. The Midsummer is one of the most wanted days to get married in Finland, and some couples even wait for years to have the church and venue of their dreams on this special day.

3. Dance around the Nordic Midsummer bonfire

With the pagan traditions, huge bonfires, juhannuskokko, are a part of Midsummer. The bonfire is traditionally made next to the water (or in some cases on the water) or an open spot, you know – safety first though it’s a pagan ritual. When you have the fire and if you make enough noise dancing and singing the devil and evil spirits don’t dare to come.

4. Midsummer sauna and summer cottage

Most commonly all Finns flee from the city to their summer cottages (kesämökki), their summer houses, for the Midsummer. To be with nature, relax in the sauna, and swim, are the Nordic ways to enjoy the summer. That makes Midsummer the happiest time for the Finns. For many Midsummer means also the start of the summer vacation so there is no time or reason for sadness.

5. Eat, drink, and be happy

New, freshly harvested, potatoes, you know the tiny and cute new potatoes (uudet perunat), are the thing in Midsummer. Enjoy the traditional Nordic foods, fresh strawberries, fresh potatoes with some butter, fresh dill, and herring or salmon and you are one step closer to being a true Nordic. There is always lots of food served at the Misdummer’s fiest and everyone is having a great time. Though Finns at Midsommer are quite heavy on alcohol, on any celebrations, things like rhubarb juice and lemonade are loved summer drinks too.

| RELATED: Rhubarb juice without a steam juicer

Rhubarb juice in the glass with rhubarb stalks on the table and a bottle of summery rhubarb juice too.

Have I done all these at Nordic Midsummer?

Of course, I’m a Finn. Well, not the dancing naked on the field on a Midsummer night – I prefer dancing in a nightgown.

How are you celebrating Midsummer?

Let me know in the comments, how you spend your Midsummer fest. Does your family have some traditions?

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A woman with closed eyes dreaming with a bouquet of flowers.

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  1. This is so interesting! I have heard of Midsummer but I didn’t know all the in-depth information. I love all the beliefs and customs of Midsummer. It sounds very interesting. I love the finding seven flowers for the bouquet to have a dream of your future husband. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is so charming & whimsical! May have to start this celebration in my area! And yes, we will dance in our nightgowns, too!

    1. Thanks for sharing Susan! Dancing outside in the nightgown on a summer night is so much fun – what else can I say than go for it?