A bonfire under a blue sky! The summer solstice festival of Finland
Last Saturday, June 23rd, was the summer solstice in Finland. The night before, meaning on the eve of the summer solstice, there is a tradition of creating a large bonfire. It is said that the spirit world becomes closer during the night of the summer solstice, and evil spirits wander around. To ward off these evil spirits, the locals create a giant bonfire. The idea of a giant bonfire made me excited, so I went to see what it was like!
The bonfire was set up on an open area near the lake. When I arrived about 30 minutes before the fire was lit, a large mountain of wood was already built up (the preparations had been finished two, three days beforehand). A few helpers were adjusting the pile, surrounding the base with cloth, and soaking the cloth with what seemed like fuel. Locals from around the area were slowly gathering. When a crowd had formed, the helpers had people move back behind some benches that had been set up.
When it became time, one of the helpers used a torch to light the bonfire. Perhaps a result of the fuel, the fire spread very quickly. In just a few moments the fire had grown to what you can see in the photograph. A quick comparison with the people in the lower left of the picture will show you how high the flames were. In the very front row, I could feel the heat as if I were directly under the summer sun. It would have been dangerous to watch from any closer! I could understand why the evil spirits would run away…
By the way, this picture was taken at 10pm. Its still not even close to sunset. A bonfire under a blue sky…this is definitely special to the summer solstice festival of Finland.