Jaaniõhtu (Midsummer Eve – 23 June) and Jaanipäev (Midsummer Day, St John’s Day – 24 June) are the most important holidays in the Estonian calendar.
The Jaanipäev celebrations were merged with the celebration of Võidupüha (Victory Day) after the War of Independence, when the Estonian forces defeated the German troops on 23 June 1919.
So, we have a long holiday 🙂
Jaanipäev is summer solstice and we say ” the sun does not go down”. Even at 10 pm, you can read a book, because is enough light 🙂 This is the day when all children have permission to be awake overnight.
To be honest. Because of global warming summer is not summer anymore. My birthday is on the 17th of June, and a few years ago on my birthday was snowing!
And about Jaanipäev- yes we have bonfires, but usually, exactly this evening is raining or a lot of mosquitoes and.. this is not very fun:)
But still, until today we believe: the lighting of the bonfire and jumping over it. This is a way of guaranteeing prosperity and avoiding bad luck.
In Estonian fairy tales and literature, there is a tale of two lovers, Koit (dawn) and Hämarik (dusk). These two lovers see each other only once a year and exchange the briefest of kisses on the shortest night of the year. Earth-bound lovers go into the forest looking for the “flower of the fern” which is said to bloom only on that night.
So, this is an important day for young pars…:) and lot of grill and chill. And next morning you just need a sour and sweet soup. I do not call this Solyanka, because real Solyanka is a little bit different. But very similar:) This is Selyanka-type soup.
After Party Soup. Seljanka
A sweet and sour soup perfect for a late summer dinner.
- 2 onions
- 70 g tomato paste ( concentrated, not pyree or sauce )
- 3-4 fermented/salted/marinated cucumber
- 400-500 g cooked /grilled meat (ham, sausages, poultry, pork….)
- oil, butter
- salt, pepper, sugar, mustard, cucumber marinade, bay leaf
- Chop onion and cook into the oil-butter mixture, while onion is half ready. Keep heat low
- add tomato paste
- Add boiling water and bring to boil, add salt, pepper and bay leaf
- Add sliced cucumbers and meat. Bring to boil and let simmer to season and set
- Season finally with salt, pepper, mustard and cucumber marinade. Soup must be savoury-sour- sweet.
Did you know
Estonian Former president Lennart Meri has provided another perspective on Jaanipäev in his book Hõbevalge (Silverwhite, 1976). Meri suggests that the Jaanipäev traditions re-enact the fall of the Kaali meteorite in Saaremaa. The meteorite’s fall is also said to be the inspiration for Nordic and Baltic mythological stories about the sun falling onto the earth. This idea suggests that the present-day bonfires and celebrations actually symbolise Estonia’s connection with its ancient past.
Reed more about Jaanipäev https://www.visittallinn.ee/eng/visitor/discover/articles-guides/celebrate-st-johns-day