What exactly is the Midsummer Eve (or St. John’s Day) that every Estonian so faithfully celebrates? Midsummer celebrations happen very closely with the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and are one of the oldest celebrations in Estonia. It is believed that Midsummer Eve marks a change in the farming year and was originally celebrated for the beginning of the season for haymaking.
Midsummer festivities are held from the 23rd of June until 24th of June, during which Estonians barely sleep, enjoy the white night by a bonfire and take part of the folkloric rituals.
Midsummer’s Eve is believed to be important for lovers. Estonian fairytale „Dawn and Dusk“ is inspired by Midsummer’s Eve shortest night where two lovers see each other only once a year and exchange the briefest of kisses on the shortest night of the year. Young lovers go wondering to the forests looking for a lucky flower of fern said to bloom only on this night. Young single people can collect nine different types of flowers and place them under a pillow for the night to see who they are going to marry. The more daring ones jump over the bonfire to avoid bad luck or try to swing as high as possible on the wooden swing. The bonfire is also believed to frighten away mischievous spirits. The bigger the fire, the further the mischievous spirits stay away.
Where to celebrate this mythical holiday? Many celebratory events are held all over Estonia for Midsummers Eve and Estonians from every corner of the country come together with their families. Villaga parties with bonfires, picnics and barbecues are the few options for letting loose and enjoying this long day and white night. For visitors wishing to experience the Estonian way of celebrating the Midsummer Eve we recommend attending the festivity on 23rd of June at the Estonian Open Air Museum or attending the week long Suure-Jaani music festival from June 17th – 23rd.