Friday, June 23, 2006

Juhannus, Bloody Juhannus




A suggestion on how one should celebrate Midsummer in Finland too? Note a certain well-known music promoter inside the Wicker Man.

Oh well, it's again time for Juhannus, as the Midsummer weekend here in Finland is called, and also my annual jeremiad about the whole bloody thing. Like Vappu, this is another occasion for Finns to get out of their heads, whether it was rain or shine, freezing cold or warm. Heading to their lakeside cottages, camping sites and rock festivals, to get out of their gourds with liberal amounts of beer and Koskenkorva vodka, fighting, knifing each other and getting drowned (usually with their zippers open as the running Finnish joke goes -- a drunkard trying to take a pee standing in a rowing boat, with tragic consequences). Finland being the country of thousands of lakes, drowning at Juhannus is a popular national pastime; newspapers following each year with their headlines of the drowned people statistics. I find the whole Juhannus thing a bloody bore when the cities get deserted for the weekend and you can barely find an open bar where to drink your boredom away. Well, the good side of it that as a city dweller you can enjoy some rare peace and calm when the rowdy yobbos have left the town.

Another Finnish Juhannus tradition is burning bonfires by lakesides, in those white nights when you can barely detect any distinction between dusk and dawn (it's not as fun and exotic as it might sound to you non-Finns since it's damn hard to sleep when there's not any proper darkness). As a fan of Robin Hardy's 1973 film Wicker Man, I'd like to replace this with another ritual of pagan origin: the burning of a Celtic-style giant wicker man. In the film we saw how this ritual was connected with human sacrifice (in this case to restore the fertility of their fields). For example, I can think of certain Finnish politicians and even some music "business" personalities who could well prove their usefulness this way.

Will talk more shit to you after Juhannus: sadly all local Net cafés will be closed, too.