Midsummer Day is a public holiday in Finland, and the celebrations surrounding the summer solstice are rooted in ancient traditions.
Since time immemorial, when winter ends the days grow longer, the snow melts away and the warm temperature covers the trees with green leaves and the ground with flowers.
According to Finnish traditions, the best time to collect honey from the beehives was the first full moon of June. With that honey, they prepared a magic drink that they supplied during the month following the union of the couples to foment love and guarantee fertility.
Especially in Nordic cultures it was customary for the newlyweds to drink during the wedding and the first lunar month “the mead”, in memory of Ukko, the father of all the Nordic gods. Its consumption also extended to other cultures. Thus, this drink of gods was known at the time of classical Greece with the name of “melikraton” and the Romans took it mixed with wine, which they called “aqua mulsum”.
Before the Christian era, during the night of June 21, in the northern hemisphere, the Light festival was also celebrated. During the night, it was traditional to collect flowers and plants, with the belief that they possessed healing powers. In addition, people lit bonfires after sunset to scare away evil spirits.
Since then, every year, in the Northern Hemisphere, when the sun passes through the Tropic of Cancer, the solstice of summer takes place marking the beginning of the summer season. Following this tradition to the present day, in the same hemisphere, the month of June remains the favourite month for weddings and it is possible that the term known as honeymoon has its origin in this tradition.
According to the opinion of some anthropologists, the solstice and its celebrations have been present since the Neolithic times and, today, it is still considered one of the most important celebrations of the year in the cultures of northern Europe and especially in Finland.
Year after year, during these days, a multitude of ancestral traditions are celebrated. So, while each one of us awaits the future that the stars bring to us this summer, during this magical night, we may not be able to avoid untying some of the ribbons that bind memories to our skin and, finally, to invoke the sun to grant us the divine grace of reaching dreamy kisses with the taste of desire and honey.
Happy summer solstice!
Special thanks to our guest writer, Esa Ennelin.