Midsummer weekend in Finland is something like Christmas in the middle of summer. The whole family gathers around for a weekend in a summer cottage, eats an enormous amount of food (with drinks flowing freely too) and spends lots of time in sauna (being whipped by birch branches). Kind of like Christmas minus the snow.
I’ve spent one or two Midsummer weekends in Finland before, but the weather is customary really bad, without fail. This year was the first exception and I could enjoy the festivities in beautiful sunshine and plenty of daylight until late PM hours.
There are quite a few traditions associated with Midsummer, and my favourite one was the bonfire that we burn around midnight. This year it was forbidden due to dry weather, so instead we burned through a whole lot of wood in the outdoor pitch. Other tradition dictates that you should collect 7 different wild flowers and put them under your pillow. After that you will have a dream about the man you will marry.
The food is another exciting part of midsummer in Finland. We stocked up on fresh salmon, new harvest potatoes, herring, mushrooms and other local delicacies. Food was cooked outdoors where possible and after dinner we would return to the fire to watch the flames & drink more wine.
One of my old time favourite dishes was mushrooms stuffed with Finnish blue cheese (called Aura), wrapped around in bacon and grilled. Absolutely delicious! Now that I don’t eat meat, I do the same without the bacon, obviously not spinning the mushrooms as you otherwise would on the grill.
I got a chance to catch up with my books on Kindle, have lazy naps under the birch tree on a bench, and even spent one afternoon sunbathing. We got visits from the ducks, swans and seagulls. Those four days in the cottage felt like a two week beach holiday.
The late evenings filled with daylight make you feel like you’re cheating life and adding some bonus quality time to moments when the darkness would force you indoors and to bed. Awesome for adults, not so great for kids when you’re trying to explain them that even though it’s very light outside, it’s actually very late at night.
After one of my sauna sessions late at night, the sky prepared something of a spectacle with pink puffy clouds spreading from behind the house, creating a painting that kept moving and transforming. I got a little carried away with the camera as you will see from below – it’s not every day you get to witness something like this.
The cottage is located on a tiny island just outside of Turku. If you ever head to Finland, you can’t leave out visit to Turku and it’s stunning archipelago, best experienced on a picnic cruise or on the Archipelago trail. There are some hidden gems around these islands, like Nauvo which is one of the most stunning places I’ve seen in Finland.
I’ll be back soon reporting from more weekend adventures in Finland. Have a lovely weekend everyone!