Summer Holidays of Ancient Finland

This list includes sacred summer days of old. Some of these festivals like Juhannus are still celebrated (by everyone) and others like Karhunpäivä (day of the bear) is celebrated mainly by pagans. Several holidays are named after different saints but the roots of the names probably are much older and are derived from different nature spirits/ancient deities.

Kesäkuu — June

Derived from the word kesä meaning summer. Fields are ploughed. The old name of the month was suvikuu (suvi-summer).

Kustaan päivä — Day of Kustaa 6.6
Potatoes and linen are planted

Eskon päivä — day of Esko 12.6
Time to plant turnips and hemp. No more planting barley.

Kesäpäivän tasaus — Summer Equinox — Pesäpäivät — The nesting days 20–22.6
Sun reaches its”nest” and is as close to the earth as possible. The longest day of the year when the sun doesn´t go down.

Ukon Vakat (from the end of May to the end of June)
Festival to honour Ukko, the god of thunder, land and fertility. There was no settled date for Ukon Vakat. If the year was warm celebrations might already take place in May but most often Ukon Vakat was celebrated during the Summer Solstice.

Juhannus — Summer Festival — day of St.John 24.6 traditions include burning bonfires, going into the sauna, casting spells. Homes are decorated with fresh leaves. In modern-day Finland, Juhannus is celebrated during the weekend of the Summer Solstice.

Pietarin päivä/ Pekan päivä — Day of Pekka (St. Peter´s day) 29.6
The warmest time of the year.

Heinäkuu — July

​Derived from the word heinä meaning hay. Time of the hay works.

Heinä-Maija 2.7
Hay cutting begins.

Karhunpäivä — Day of the bear 13.7
Ancient Finnish celebration to honour the bear god. It was originally celebrated during early spring when the bear hunt took place. Nowadays it is celebrated in the summer by some pagans (like myself) who follow the Finnish wheel of the year. Day of the bear was also celebrated in Estonia during the summer. The 13th of July is considered to be one of the warmest days of the year.

Jaakon päivä — Ukon pyhä — Day of Jaakko — Ukko´s holiday 25.7
Ukko (thunder) is respected by spending the day in silence.

Ollin päivä — day of Olli 29.7
The first touch of autumn. Nights are getting darker. First harvest festival.

Elokuu — August

​The name of elokuu is derived from the Finnish word elonkorjuu meaning harvest. The old name of the month was mätäkuu the rotten month. Under the heath waves, food easily became rotten.

Vanhan Iljan päivä — Day of old Ilja 1.8
In Karelia, Ilja throws chilled stones into the waters. The mushroom season begins. In Karelia bulls and goats are sacrificed for the spirits.

Laurin päivä — day of Lauri 10. 8
End of the summer. The sky is filled with shooting stars.

Perttelin päivä — Day of Pertteli 24.8
First day of autumn. Frosty nights arrive. Autumn rye is planted.

Syyskuu — September
The name of the month is derived from the Finnish word syksy meaning autumn.

Syys-Matti — Autumn Matti 21.9
Preparing for winter begins. Apples, potatoes and turnips are picked. Bears go into hibernation.

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Niina's Fairychamber

Niina's Fairychamber

Illustrator, writer and a folklorist. Likes cats, tea and period dramas. Currently writing a book about Finnish mythology. A host of the Little Women Podcast.