A MIDSUMMER COCKTAIL: HEALTH, BELIEFS AND BAD HABITS | Kitty's Corner
Imagine a perfect sunny summer day, with lush greenery surrounding you, a view to a lake so blue, it hurts your eyes and intoxicating scents of the blooming nature, filling your senses. Imagine a summer night when the sun doesn´t set, the colors get a silvery shimmer and the sounds of nature have a mystical echo. The magical midsummer days of the North have an almost sacred meaning for the Scandinavians. So short is the time of light and warmth during the rest of the year on those arctic levels, that the value of them can´t be measured in any logical way.
In the end of June, in every Nordic country, a full weekend is devoted to celebrating Midsummer. This celebration has its roots in ancient Nordic religions. It was believed that a celebration during summer solstice could impact the fertility of the crop as well as of marriages.
It was believed that at midsummer, at the turning point, when the days are the longest and soon after when the days are getting shorter again, the sun was ”nesting”, on the highest branch of the “Tree of the World”. This cosmic change of direction that was happening during these “nesting days” was a tricky moment. It was believed that right at that moment all the bad spirits and ghosts were rambling free in the world and of course it wasn´t a good thing. That is why also in the modern days, all across the Nordic countries people are setting up midsummer bonfires as a symbol to drive away witches and bad spirits. Making loud noise and partying hard is also considered to do the same thing.
Fertility spells were as important. In many villages a midsummer mast was set up to symbolize fertility and even today villagers gather around long poles, decorated beautifully in flower garlands and flags, to celebrate together. It was also believed that midsummer was the perfect time to find a spouse. That is why midsummer traditions are full of spells from a certain way to make the sauna to swim naked in a well. And then everyone goes to dance!
The nature is celebrating as well. The white night, when the sun doesn´t set, makes the Earth treats incredibly delicious. For midsummer, the nature is loading up its treats with vitamins and super antioxidants. The new potatoes, which are a true Nordic delicacy, are ripe just for midsummer. The potatoes, with a small dab of butter, are so tasteful that it is almost hard to believe it is a potato. Not to mention the strawberries. The sun must love strawberries, because the sweetness of them is heavenly! The fresh peas are irresistibly good and can be eaten straight from the fields.
Be warned, however. If visiting the big cities in the Nordic countries during the midsummer festivities, you will find only ghost towns. Try to find your way to small villages and you might experience some true midsummer galore. Everyone who is capable, flees the cities to the countryside. There, away from the watching eye, all the magic of midsummer happens.
This article is a part of "Kittys corner" series written by Helena "Kitty" Ihamuotila. Kitty is a Finland-based writer and creative who has worked in the fields of lifestyle, fashion, culture and arts. With Kitty we'll deep dive to Finnish culture and habits, as well as lifestyle and beauty.
Photo credit: Alexandra Alholm