Midsummer is one of the most beloved traditions in all of Scandinavia, and Finland goes equally crazy during this celebration. Finnish midsummers are a disturbing odyssey into the dark underbelly of human existence. On the surface it all seems so nice and sweet: spending time with family and friends, celebrating the summer by sweating in a sauna and jumping into the lake for a midnight swim before lighting a traditional bonfire called kokko. In reality it often devolves into another excuse to flirt with alcohol poisoning and possibly drowning into the aforementioned lake. Much like all other Finnish celebrations.
Most people abandon the larger cities and head to their summer houses to celebrate this national holiday. Traditional activities include BBQ-parties, bonfires and extensive time spent in saunas, beating your back with vihta – bouquets of birch – to massage and stimulate your skin and instigate relaxation.
The Finnish archipelago offers a wonderful alternative to summer houses. Escape out to sea and you’ll find countless small islands filling up with happy revelers. There’s a true sense of unity as people wave and yell at each other from one boat to another or sit side by side on the rocky shores admiring the bonfires. For a nation of people who supposedly hate human contact, late June seems to be an exception.
Large groups of people gather on the shores of an island to admire the traditional bonfire
The nautical atmosphere of the Finnish archipelago is perfect for a midsummer cruise
IHA-Lines operates several cruise routes from Helsinki into the beautiful archipelago. On some cruises you can try amazing local delicacies, and maybe even a glass (or ten) of wine. Because it’s midsummer.
The sun may set, but the night never goes totally dark in the Finnish summer
And the night is far from over when the boat returns ashore…