Midsummer Eve the Nordic way - new potatoes, dill and pickled herring


New potatoes, dill and pickled herring

Today is  Midsummer Eve in Finland and all the Nordic countries. We don’t celebrate Midsummer on the actual summer solstice day unless it happens to fall on the Saturday. Midsummer day is the Saturday between 20th and 26th of June and is called Juhannus, after John the Babtist whose birthday it apparently is.

Rowing boat on lake Päijänne

All my family and friends in Finland are posting pictures from their summer houses. The weather is reliably awful in most parts of the country, but they will soldier on with determined sneers on their hell-bent faces shaped by generations of disappointment and being kicked in the head by the nature, our neighbouring countries and fate in general. They will be fanning their barbecues and bonfires in the wind and rain. They will stoically walk into the ice cold water from sauna, swim around a little, maybe float on their back looking at the white sky thinking it's bloody freezing, but I can't be the first one back to sauna. Then they will casually make their way back to the sauna and beat themselves and each other with birch twigs.

I don’t usually go home for Midsummer because we go in July which  is the real holiday month, so I miss all the  Juhannus-action. Last time we went for Midsummer was actually husband’s first visit to Finland 8 years ago.  We stayed at my parents' island cabin with my younger brother and his wife.

Summer cottage by lake Päijänne

It was a fantastic weekend. The weather was decent, not a heatwave exactly, but sunny and nice. Water was really cold though, as it usually is that time of summer. Not that it ever really gets to Jumeirah beach temperatures which is husband’s unhelpful benchmark. Bravely he jumped in though and we warmed up in the sauna afterwards. He’d never been to a proper sauna where you throw water on the stove to create steam and heat and he thought the whole place might explode when I started chucking water on the stones. I don’t think he’d fully realized that it was not electric. There is no electricity on the entire island.

Afterwards we sat on the sauna terrace facing the still lake wrapped in our towels drinking Lonkero and enjoying the quiet of the forests and the lake around us when two whooper swans landed on the water in front of us. It was a very beautiful moment.

Midnight swim

Two whooper swans at lake Päijänne

Lake Päijänne
White night
Lake Päijänne
Smoke on the water

Lake Päijänne Lake Päijänne

We sat through the night around a little open fire on the lakeshore listening to Finnish music, me and my sister-in-law danced to the tunes and we cooked sausages on sticks on the open fire. I was vegetarian then so I had some of those slightly sad soy things pretending they were really quite tasty.

Time to go to bed
Today looking at all the Midsummer posts I wanted to get in the mood and felt like a bit of potato love was in order. I was working from home, so decided to have a midsummer themed lunch. I boiled some new potatoes in salted water with dill and had them with some thinly sliced shallot, pickled herring and fresh dill. Beautiful simplicity. Happy Midsummer!

Lake Päijänne

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