Midsummer is one of the most awaited times of the year and Midsummer Eve is one of the most magical nights in Estonia.
What makes the longest day and the light night so inviting and attractive especially on Saaremaa? Saaremaa islanders have timeless traditions related to Midsummer Day that are still alive today. In the olden days, people here had various customs for gaining luck for all ventures in life. It is good to see those practices still in use today. Do not take it all too seriously, but if you wish to spend Midsummer Day like a Saaremaa islander, here are some tips:
On Midsummer Day, you can smell the amazing scent of flowers, with hay ready to be cut. Nature is in full bloom – it is the best time to partake in the magical power of the meadow flowers. In order to find out who her future sweetheart will be, a maiden has to make a bouquet of seven different kinds of flowers on Midsummer Eve. Seven fences must be climbed over when picking the flowers, while keeping in mind that not a word must be exchanged with anyone. Only focus on picking the flowers!
The picker must place the bouquet under her pillow for Midsummer night in order to see her future companion in a dream.
Singles are truly busy on Midsummer night, as that is when the fern blooms and the blossom shines more beautifully than the Morning Star. Singles have to be vigilant, for the fern only blooms very briefly and only a few people notice it. As it is not known when exactly the fern bursts into bloom, you have to go looking for a budding bloom early and keep watch beside it. You don’t have to hurry home, particularly if you’re alone with your sweetheart. If you haven’t found your fern blossom yet, be sure to go looking for one on Midsummer night. Those who seek shall find!
The old and the young gather by the Midsummer fire to spend a merry evening together. To music and shouts of encouragement, the bolder ones jump over the fire. It is believed that jumping over the fire will bring good health for the entire year. The Saaremaa islanders believed that the fire has a cleansing power which helps rid the jumper of all that is bad. As is the old custom, a fresh batch of homebrew is made to be enjoyed by the Midsummer fire, as it tastes entirely different from the beer sold in the shops.
While in the olden days people used to have a Midsummer fire in every village, the custom now is to hold large communal Midsummer parties in which everyone can take part.
SLEEPING IN THE HAYLOFT!
Midsummer Day was also when the period of sleeping in the hayloft started, as new hay for the animals had by then already been stored there. Most Saaremaa islanders can still tell you at least one story from their childhood when they slept a night in the freshly made sweet-smelling hay, with dry grass stalks pricking their sides. If you’re lucky when chatting to locals, you might get the opportunity to sleep in fresh hay in a hayloft even this summer. Be sure not to forget the ladder!
However, what makes Midsummer on Saare – maa particularly special is that here you can join us all to dance and sing to the famous ‘Saaremaa Waltz’.
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