Tomorrow all over the Nordic countries people will be celebrating Midsummer Eve.
In Finland this means that good food and drink will be consumed, there’ll be some dancing, and fires will be lit to mark the night when the sun never sets.
In Sweden, and in Åland, people will be picking wild flowers to wear in their hair, while drinking schnapps and dancing around a maypole (or Midsummerstång).
Midsummer Eve is always a Friday closest to the summer solstice and heralds the long summer holidays which all the Nordic countries enjoy. Many people, fortunate enough to have a country cottage, leave town and start their often 4 or 5 weeks long summer hibernations.
Anyone doing business with the Nordic countries will know the Midsummer weekend as the worst time time to get hold of anyone important, and often the weeks afterwards the countries may as well have closed down.
If you are lucky to be in a Nordic country over Midsummer, you will experience the wonderful long evenings and nights, when the sun barely dips into the horizon just to rise again only moments later. If, however, you try to spend Midsummer in a city you might be disappointed; everything is closed and you may as well be holidaying in a ghost town.
Having just watched England lose their second World Cup football match, I think a Nordic city like Helsinki or Stockholm even on Midsummer Eve when everyone has left town would be preferable to tomorrow’s disappointed, crowded, humid London…Oh, well.
Have a wonderful Midsummer wherever you are…and to my Finnish readers, sitting on a sauna porch somewhere by a lake (you know who you are!), I’ll quote Randy Crawford, ‘You lucky, lucky thing!’