In the land of the midnight sun, Finland, Midsummer is an important family celebration. Finns leave the towns and return to nature, to stay in timber cottages located close to lakeshores, hidden within the extensive forests, where they celebrate the night with no darkness.
To mark the special occasion at home or elsewhere, these activities can be explored, for your own family’s Midsummer meandering.
Finger Knitted Flower Headband
Become a beautiful Finnish maiden with flowers in your hair.
Cotton yarn of your own colour choice
A contrasting colour yarn
:: Take some cotton yarn and finger knit a length of around one metre. To finger knit, wrap the yarn around your finger twice, take the bottom one and lift it over the top of the finger, wrap around below and repeat again. I chose yellow cotton to represent the abundant amount of dandelions in Finland during Midsummer.
:: Make the finger knitted strip into a tight spiral and stitch together using a contrasting colour.
:: When you have made the number of flowers you wish, you can stitch them onto the headband in the positions you require. I used green and silver ribbons braided together to represent the beautiful birch trees of Finland.
:: Dance around as a beautiful Summer maiden, collecting wild flowers as you go, place them under your pillow, so the Finns say, and you will dream of your future!
‘Will o Wisp’ Lantern
It is a Finnish myth to see a ‘Will o Wisp’ is to find treasure, creating this piece and watching your child’s face light up, is treasure in itself.
A small glass jar
A variety of coloured tissue paper
Thin metal wire or ribbon
A candle or tea light
:: Find a small glass jar and tear the tissue paper into small pieces
:: Using a lollipop stick or something else (fingers!), apply glue to the outside of the jar and lay the tissue on top, you can overlap as much or as little as you wish. My two-year-old loved doing this, sticky fingers galore!
:: When the jar is covered on the outside, including the base, leave to dry.
Using the thin metal wire or ribbon, create a circle around the top lip of the jar and attach a piece to that to create a handle. I threaded coloured beads onto the wire/ribbon for that added sparkle!
Light a candle and place it inside the jar, hang from a tree branch, for your own garden Will o Wisp. Beautiful!
In Finland hundreds of bonfires are lit to celebrate’ Juhannes’. To warm your hearts for Midsummer these bracelets are perfect.
Some thin strips of leather
Some wooden beads in yellow, orange and red (or paint your own natural-coloured beads)
:: Cut the strips of leather to the wrist size required, wrapping the strips around the wrist twice, then cutting, is a good guide.
:: Take two or three strips of leather and knot them together.
:: Thread on the beads and continue knotting strands, twisting, braiding, creating patterns, exploring different ways of tying. The bracelet can be as simple or as intricate as you wish.
:: When complete,d knot the ends together or use your initial bead and a loop to fasten. If you prefer, use a single strip of leather to join the ends together.
:: In the summer months, I tend to find my bracelets become multi-functional. They become hair bands to secure hair back when enjoying the sunshine or end up on the picnic table as a napkin ring. Whatever your bonfire bracelets become, may they warm your heart!
Birch Welcome Branches
It is a Finnish tradition to have two birch branches outside your door to welcome visitors in the summer months. Make your own Midsummer greetings at your doorway for your guests.
Two potted plants which look like tree branches
Two terracotta pots
Paints (white, grey and silver)
Ribbon in silver, white and green
Coloured glass beads
:: Begin by preparing the pot. Sponge paint the pot white, grey and silver, to represent the bark on a birch tree
:: Place the plant in the pot, taking care to ensure it is potted correctly and has drainage for water. Also take note of whether your doorway is in direct sunlight or shade and select the plant accordingly.
:: Taking care not to damage the plant in any way, wrap lengths of ribbon around the plant to decorate, weaving in and out.
:: Use glass beads threaded on ribbon or string for some added sunlight sparkle!
And to complete your Midsummer welcome, a birch leaf and dandelion door decoration….
Cheerful Greetings Circle
Willow branches bent to create a circle (these are easily found pre-prepared at craft stores)
Blue, silver and grey paint
Yellow and green felt
Textile glue and/or green, yellow cotton thread and needle.
:: Start by painting the willow wreath using the coloured paint; the grey and silver represent the birch trees, the blue for the midnight sun sky!
:: On the yellow felt draw around three different sized circles: small, medium and large. These will create the dandelion flowers.
:: Using the textile glue, put a small dollop on the centre of the large circle and place the medium circle on top, repeat on the medium circle placing the smaller circle on top, alternatively you can stitch them together.
:: When the glue is dry, use scissors to cut the petals, cut from the outer edge inwards in a straight line.
:: On the green felt cut out birch leaf shapes (almost a heart shape with jagged edges.)
:: Using the needle and thread attach the leaves and flowers as you wish.
:: Ta da! A cheerful greetings circle from your Midsummer meandering.
Victoria May Lewis, is a Mother and an Early Years teacher living in Oulu, Northern Finland with her beautiful Midsummer born babe. She has worked in childcare and education for fourteen years and she discovered having her son opened her eyes even wider and inspired her to explore life even more. She is eagerly awaiting the warm Finnish Summer days with her son, when darkness never appears, in the land of the midnight sun. You can learn more about her here at her sporadic blog!