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Juhannus celebrations begin Friday evening

Published : 19 Jun 2020, 00:12

Updated : 19 Jun 2020, 10:11

  DF Report

Bonfire on the bank of Kemijoki in Rovaniemi. DF File 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 not throng the banks of lakes, rivers and sea along with their family, relations and friends this year to light bonfires due to the coronavirus situation and weather warning.

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 on Tuesday reminded people that it is always prohibited to light a bonfire when the Finnish Meteorological Institute has issued a forest fire or grass fire warning.

No exception will be granted for lighting bonfires this year, said a government press release.

Every year, Midsummer bonfires lead to forest fires. Most of the fires are due to poor preparations or carelessness.

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.

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.

The interior ministry urged people to check the latest fire warnings for forest fires or grass fires in the area from a local weather forecast or from the website of the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

If there are no forest or grass fire warnings in the area, people should exercise special caution in the lighting of bonfires. Lighting a bonfire on someone else’s land requires permission from the landowner.

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.