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Juhannus celebrations begin Friday evening

Published : 21 Jun 2019, 12:08

Updated : 22 Jun 2019, 01:43

  DF Report

Bonfire on the bank of Kemijoki in Rovaniemi on Friday night. DF Photo.

People from all walks of life are poised to celebrate the Juhannus (Midsummer), one of the largest traditional festivals set to begin on Friday evening.

People will throng the banks of lakes, rivers and sea along with their family, relations and friends and light bonfires to add colours to the festival.

There will be exotic foods and drinks, besides music, dance, songs and making fun, on the occasion of the biggest summer celebration.

All offices including government and private excepting the emergency services will remain closed till Monday.

There are various events to go around in various parts of Helsinki and other parts of the country.

For 60 years, many residents of Helsinki flock to Seurasaari, an island in the greater region of Helsinki to watch midsummer bonfires.

The traditional Midsummer Eve celebrations on the island of Seurasaari will begin at 5:00pm on Friday and the celebrations continue all the way until midnight.

Each year a lucky wedding couple is chosen who get to dance their wedding waltz on the main stage and light the bonfire on the Kyrösjärvi lake from a wooden church boat.

The programme also includes other smaller bonfires, a Midsummer pole decorated in flowers, Finnish folk dances and a magic path where you can make spells in the enchanted night.

Nowadays, Finnish Silverline offers boat trips from the Laukontori harbour. The cruise rate includes midsummer bonfire, dance and a coupe for sauna.

Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry urged people to take special precautions when lighting bonfires on the eve of Midsummer.

The ministry in a press release issued on Thursday said that every year Midsummer bonfires lead to forest fires and most of the fires are due to poor preparations or carelessness.

“It is now prohibited to light a bonfire at all times when the Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued a forest fire or grass fire warning. This amendment to the Rescue Act entered into force on 1 January 2019. In addition, bonfires may not be lit if, because of drought, wind or other reasons, the conditions are such that there is a manifest risk of a forest fire, grass fire or other fire,” said the press release, adding that regional rescue authorities may also, on reasonable grounds, prohibit the making of open fires in their rescue service regions or parts of them for a specific period of time.

Midsummer is also the Day of the Finnish Flag. Flags are to be raised at 18.00 on Midsummer’s Eve and lowered on Midsummer Day at 21.00.

It is believed that the biblical John the Baptist was born on the Midsummer Day.

After the Christianisation of Scandinavia in the Middle Ages, the Midsummer day was fixed on June 24 to commemorate St. John the Baptist, the saint who baptised Jesus.

Nowadays, Midsummer, however, is celebrated on the Saturday between June 20 and June 26 and the celebrations combine both pagan and Christian traditions.