Wow, summer already that means today that yearly Finnish tradition of Midsummer or Juhannus celebration marking the beginning of summer, commences. In Finland, this is a public holiday starting on Friday as people pack the car and hit the road for that country cottage and sauna on the lake leaving vacate cities behind. How do I know of this celebration? For six summers of my young life, the Pykonen Family owned shares in the Detroit Finnish Co-Operative Summer Camp Association (D.F.C.S.C.A.) for patrons of Finnish descendant and families, commonly known as the Finn Camp
The fourth weekend of June officially kicks off summer at the Finn camp (coinciding with Finland) with Juhannus festivities commemorating John the Baptist, (before being Christianized, it was called Ukko’s celebration honoring the Finnish god Ukko God of Thunder). There is traditional song and dances, pots of Mojakka (beef stew), Pulla (sweet bread), gallons of hot coffee as well as conventional American foods and The Pasty. For those not familiar the Pasty is a Cornish meal brought to American by Cornish miners immigrating to the United States with some settling on the Keweenaw Peninsula on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula going to work in copper mines. My grandmother taught my mother and her me and every so often, I treat friends to this laborious yet delicious meal. Think potpie without the gravy.
At night the traditional Kokko (a bonfire of wood debris stacked high, custom has it that the oldest man in the village has the honor of lighting the fire) blazes to life linked with fertility, cleansing, and banishing evil spirits as young and old watch the flames dance high into the night sky. Celebration continues all night.
So on this festive day I must partake in honest toil but the mind oh ho will be dancing, singing, and watching those flames lick the night sky. For all those celebrating be safe, have fun and make sure the sausage is securely wrapped in foil before placing on the rocks and that the frig is well stocked with complimentary beverages.