Today the summer started! Yay!
The summer solstice is one of the oldest holidays and it has been celebrated for thousands of years in different countries around the world. Midsummer celebrations are connected to the beginning of summer, that’s why it’s celebrated between June 21st and 24th , although the date may vary in different countries. It’s most widely celebrated in Scandinavia and in the Baltic states.
I thought that maybe you would like to read about Midsummer traditions in Estonia.
Jaanipäev (“St. John’s Day”)
It’s celebrated on June 23th (the eve of the Summer Solstice) and I could say that in Estonia, midsummer is the most celebrated holiday apart from Christmas. This day marked the change in the farming year and the beginning of haymaking for our ancestors. So it was time to have fun and celebrate before the hard work begun.
Nowadays most people leave the city and gather with their families and friends in the countryside to celebrate St. John’s Day.
The most common and important Midsummer celebration traditions are explained below.
Our ancestors believed, that bonfires have purifying powers, so for them, lighting a fire kept away bad spirits. People who live in the countryside collect wood and other materials for the bonfire all year long, so the material piles are huge and when it will be lit, the fire columns are really high. It’s a spectacular sight, specially at night.
Jumping over the fire
It’s a funny entertainment form for the youngsters. But of course it can be done when some of the wood has already burnt. Jumping over the fire is seen as a way of guaranteeing prosperity and avoiding bad luck. Nowadays it’s more of a game to show your courage and strength.
Making and wearing wreaths of flowers
As the midsummer celebrations are mostly held on fields, girls have a chance to collect different field flowers and making wreaths of them.
A search for the mystical fern blossom
There is a tale, that fern blooms only at the night of Midsummer and whoever finds it, will supposedly be happy, healthy and rich for the rest of their life. It’s also said that the person also gains the ability to understand animals. A search for the fern bloom gave couples an excuse to get lost in the woods for a long time. Actually ferns never bloom :D.
7 flowers,7 gardens and 7 fences
Want to see who your future spouse will be? All you have to do is pick 7 flowers from 7 gardens and climb over 7 fences. Then make a bouquet of those flowers and put it under your pillow when you sleep. This way you can see your future spouse in your dreams. I remember searching for different flowers when I was little and hoping to see Prince Charming in my dreams, but I never did. Still can’t figure out what I did wrong.
Dancing & singing
Estonians always say that we are dance and song nation. Most of the Estonian villages and towns celebrate the Midsummer, with a gathering, where different folk groups sing and dance. Also there are a lot of pop concerts held for the honour of Jaanipäev.
Both old and young wait for the Jaanipäev and celebrate it with joy. It’s one of the most beloved holidays in my little country.