Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celebrate Community - My favorite community event!

Hello everybody!

Until the end of the week, I am participating at Celebrate Community Blog Hop. This blog hop is organized by the friend and author Pavarti K. Tyler together with other wonderful authors! There will be post every day inclusive Sunday on following topics:

August 16: Share your favorite recipe
You can find my recipe here:

August 17: Tell us: What does community togetherness mean to you?
My post is here:

August 18: (Eid): Share your favorite community/family photo, and tell us the story behind it.

August 19: Tell us: How do you share happiness?

Favorite community/family photos and stories

There are two very big events for Estonian in a year - one is Christmas and the other is Midsummer Eve. My pictures and a story is from the Midsummer Eve. Pictures are taken from last summer 2011 where I spent the Midsummer Eve with my family!

Midsummer is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 21 and June 24 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. Midsummer is especially important in the cultures of Scandinavia, Estonia and Latvia where it is the most celebrated holiday apart from Christmas.

Midsummer is celebrated I think by all Estonians! People start planning it few weeks ahead, trying to find places on the countryside where to make a bonfire and to barbecue with family and friends. Most of the cities are fairly empty during that time of the year, because city bonfires are usually considered boring compared to the ones you can go to outside of the city. Many Estonians have country houses or summer houses and people usually gather there.

My mom and dad, Midsummer 2012

The Midsummer Eve's day usually starts with preparing for the barbecue. good food is a big part of the Midsummer Eve! Last year what we did with my sister's family and my parents was that we first made a nice barbecue at my parents' summer house and later drove to a village where one of the bigger bonfires on the island of Saaremaa was lit. Luckily it's only 5 minutes of drive from my parents' summerhouse and it's in a beautiful place on the beach.

Me, my sister, her youngest daughter Agathe, my mom and my dad. Midsummer Eve 2011

When you decide to go to a bigger bonfire like we did last year, then you have to be prepared that there are lots of people with their families joining. The bonfire is usually lit quite late, because the Midsummer Eve's day is the longest and lightest, the sun goes down around 11PM and as you know, the bonfires are the most beautiful when it's dark outside.

My oldest niece Laura with my son Mihkel
When it's still light, there are usually concerts, programs specially for kids, otherwise you mingle, talk and meet a lot of people whom you know. Midsummer's Eve is a biggest community event generally speaking, because when Christmas is purely family event, then Midsummer's Eve is time for celebrating the summer, the long nights and last but not least the community!

My sis and me, Midsummer 2011

"Jaanipäev" ("John's Day" in English) was celebrated long before the arrival of Christianity in Estonia, although the day was given its name by the crusaders. The arrival of Christianity, however, did not end pagan beliefs and fertility rituals surrounding this holiday. In 1578, Balthasar Russow wrote in his Livonian Chronicle about Estonians who placed more importance on the festival than going to church. He complained about those who went to church, but did not enter, and instead spent their time lighting bonfires, drinking, dancing, singing and following pagan rituals. Midsummer marks a change in the farming year, specifically the break between the completion of spring sowing and the hard work of summer hay-making.

Understandably, some of the rituals of Jaanipäev have very strong folkloric roots. The best-known Jaanik, or midsummer, ritual is the lighting of the bonfire and jumping over it. This is seen as a way of guaranteeing prosperity and avoiding bad luck. Likewise, to not light the fire is to invite the destruction of your house by fire. The fire also frightened away mischievous spirits who avoided it at all costs, thus ensuring a good harvest. So, the bigger the fire, the further the mischievous spirits stayed away.

Estonians celebrate "Jaaniõhtu" on the eve of the Summer Solstice (June 23) with bonfires. On the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, old fishing boats may be burnt in the large pyres set ablaze. On Jaaniõhtu, Estonians all around the country will gather with their families, or at larger events to celebrate this important day with singing and dancing, as Estonians have done for centuries. The celebrations that accompany Jaaniõhtu carry on usually through the night, they are the largest and most important of the year, and the traditions are almost identical to Finland and similar to neighbours Latvia and Sweden.

Since 1934, June 23 is also national Victory Day of Estonia and both 23rd and 24th are holidays and flag days. The Estonian flag is not lowered in the night between these two days.

All the quotes are taken from Wikipedia :

Thanks for coming by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Midsummer sounds like an awesome celebration! i'll have to time my visit for when I can be there :) Thank you so much for sharing this week. It's been an awesome way to get to know everyone better and whole people, not just chat boxes :)

  2. That would be so cool if you really could come and visit me here! There is a bedroom(s) in my house waiting for you!

    Yes, it has been awesome event. I have enjoyed it a lot! Thanks for organizing it!