Juhannus

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Juhannus (Midsummer Day)

Saturday between June 20 and June 26
Juhannus is a celebration in Finland of the Summer Solstice and of the feast of St. John. Like a medieval holiday, people celebrate at the lake shores where they build bonfires and dance all night. Since this is near the longest day of the year, special late performances are held at open-air theaters in many towns. There are also dances at hotels.
Many customs are remnants of pagan times. In earlier times, the bonfire was supposed to reveal the future. Birch tree branches are brought into the homes to insure future happiness. Even buses and office buildings are adorned with birch branches. On the Aland Islands, tall poles are decorated with flowers and leaves, and supper tables are decorated with birch and garlands of flowers. The church made the festival St. John's Day, but the celebration has more pagan overtones than Christian ones.
As Finland's Flag Day, Juhannus is also a national holiday.
CONTACTS:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland
Department for Communication and Culture
P.O. Box 176
Helsinki, 00161 Finland
358-9-1600-5; fax: 358-9-1605-5901
www.virtual.finland.fi
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 392
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