MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION

MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION

Kotakyläntie 197, 83900 Juuka

MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION

SUMMER SOLSTICE AND MIDSUMMER IN KOTAKYLÄ
Thu-Sun 20-23 June 2024
Kotakylä, Juuka, North Karelia, Finland


Midsummer is an ancient festival, when the Sun reaches the highest point in the Northern Sky. It is said that at Midsummer time the Sun rests in its nest just like on a branch of the World Tree. Now we are lucky to be able to celebrate Midsummer together at the time of the Summer Solstice. The time is associated with many magical beliefs and practices related to harvest, fertility, and purification. 
 
Our MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION will be surrounded by forest, water and fire. The venue is called Kotakylä, which means a village of traditional tipi-like dwellings similar to the ones still used in Lapland. Kota is related to the Finnish word koti, a home. Kylä means a village. Kotakylä lies in Juuka, in Eastern Finland, near the famous holy hills of Koli National Park. 
 
Kotakylä is located in wild woods on a cape surrounded by a lake, silence and deep peace. In the winter it is almost dark there, but in the summer it is light day and night. At the tip of the rocky cape an enchantingly beautiful view of Vaikkojärvi opens before our eyes. So you are very welcome to join us and the magic of the Eastern Finnish and North Karelian forest - the village and world of kotas, campfires, saunas and fascinating art that leads us to archaic times and animistic worldviews. 
 
You can participate in the celebration on one day or for the whole weekend! The programme is guided by local guides of folk traditions: Eero Peltonen, Jenni Örn and Helena Karhu. 
 
WHAT KIND OF CELEBRATION WE WILL EXPERIENCE?  
The sun shines in the sky as we enter the magic of the Nightless Night. The Summer Solstice and Midsummer in Finland are dreamlike times. Therefore, at the MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION, we are especially sensitive to experience the invisible forces and phenomena in Nature. 
 
We invite the Elves to join us to build a bonfire and gather herbs and wild vegetables. Or to fetch cleansing water for a sauna ceremony from the Vaikkoniemi Spring. The Spirits of Nature can also show where we are heading when we look for herbs for the sauna baths. Or where we direct our gaze in the sunlit night landscape. 
 
In the company of the Mothers of Water, we cleanse ourselves in Kotakylä's unique saunas and swim in Lake Vaikkojärvi. Common joy rises from the depths of the lake, and the songs echo from the throats of the unsung. We express our greatest respect and deepest gratitude to the Sun. 
 
We start the MIDSUMMER SUN CELEBRATION already on Thursday evening at the time of the Summer Solstice, when we finish and inaugurate a traditional style labyrinth built in Kotakylä earlier in the Spring. We call it Jatulintarha (Giant´s Garden). During the weekend, we also learn to collect Midsummer herbs, sing Sun songs and participate in the Midsummer Sauna Ceremony. 
 
One of the highlights of the celebration is the Midsummer Bonfire. The bonfire connects us to our ancient roots, our ancestors and the chain of generations. We draw the fire's light and warmth into ourselves and everyone present. We let the fire burn away all that is unnecessary. We allow the fire to purify and strengthen us, to create space for shared joy, new opportunities and wisdom.  
 
During the day, we will also build together a Sun Wheel, Päivänkehrä, symbolizing the Sun. We will make a wheel of fire by bending willow branches and creating a round shape from them. Inside the wheel we put wood shavings, birch bark, dry pine and spruce needles and other easily flammable things. We will show our gratitude to the Sun by lifting the Fire Wheel to the top of the bonfire. By doing that we will also honour and celebrate the cycle of the year and the time when the Sun rests in its nest. 
 
Welcome to Kotakylä, to the Celebration of the Sun on the shores of Lake Vaikkojärvi. Welcome to Juuka and North Karelia. Welcome to Finland. We welcome children, adults, old and young, all kinds of wonderful people and beings. Come and surrender to the Sun - go to sleep and wake up while the Sun keeps on shining. Let yourself be enchanted by the beauty, silence, and summery sounds of nature.
 
PROGRAM  
THURSDAY - SUMMER SOLSTICE 
The arrival in Kotakylä is between 3–6 p.m. The programme starts at 6 pm in the Campfire Circle in Iso Kota. Eero will tell about the traditional ways of celebrating the Summer Solstice and Midsummer. He will also introduce us to the tradition of Runosong – a 2000-year-old singing style of ancient Baltic-Finnic poetry. A huge amount of folk poetry and melodies was collected mainly at 19th and 20th centuries. These poems laid the foundation for the Kalevala, the national epic of Finns and Karelians. 
 
We will also greet the Sun and complete and initiate Jatulintarha, a labyrinth that was recently built in Kotakylä. A traditional form was followed in the construction of the labyrinth. Jatulintarha means the Giant's Garden. These labyrinths were usually built near the water. It is unclear what their original purpose has been – but we can experiment and try to figure it out. 
 
FRIDAY – MIDSUMMER EVE  
Midnight Eve Celebration will be centred around the Midsummer Bonfire and the Sauna World. We will start the day with Helena who guides us through a solar meditation. After that Jenni will guide us how to find Midsummer herbs, and tell us how to use them for our wellbeing. We will also make Midsummer wreaths, Midsummer sauna whisks and decorate the saunas together. 

In the afternoon, we will build a Midsummer Bonfire all together, to the top of which we will raise the Sun Wheel. After that, there is free time, and an opportunity for kayaking and swimming. 

Midsummer Sauna Experience will be in three saunas, all heated traditionally with birch and alder wood. We will have the joy of entering the warm, but gentle steam of Musta Kyly, the fabulous Smoke Sauna of Kotakylä. Two other of Kotakylä's five wood-heated saunas - the unique Kotasauna and the gentle Hemmosauna, are also warmly welcoming us. And Lake Vaikkojärvi is waiting for us to dive into its clear and refreshing waters. 

We culminate Midsummer's Eve by lighting the Midsummer Bonfire and the Päivänkehrä Sun Wheel on the top of the fire. This is how we celebrate the power and importance of the Sun for all nature and all growth. Around the bonfire we dance, sing, drum and in the fire burn everything unnecessary. 

As another highlight of Midsummer Night, we experience Kotakylä's enchanting and unique Sauna World. We get to feel the gentle and relaxing touch of the Smoke Sauna, or Musta Kyly, on our skin and cleanse our body and soul. The special Kota sauna and the gentle Hemmo sauna will also be welcoming us.

In case of a fire warning we can have a small bonfire inside one of the kotas of Kotakylä.

 
SATURDAY – MIDSUMMER SAUNA CEREMONY DAY  
The entire Midsummer Day is dedicated to saunas, of which there are no less than five in Kotakylä and this Sauna World is unique in the whole of Finland. You will also get to experience the rest of Kotakylä's sauna treasures: the womb-like Muasaana and the Lauttasauna that floats on lake Vaikkojärvi. All saunas are wood-heated and in their own way fascinating, surprising and experiential. In connection with the sauna, we can use the large Panorama kota and the showers next to it. 

We start the Midsummer's Day sauna ceremony at 11 a.m. by the campfire circle where we sing and go through the day's programme. After that, Jenni leads us to the world of herbs, wild plants and flowers and their magical and healing effects. Eero sings and teaches sauna songs and incantations and instructs us in the making of sauna whisks from different types of wood. In Finnish, the name of a sauna whisk is vasta in Eastern Finland and vihta in Western Finland. Helena takes us to the roots of personal and communal strength with the help of the enchanting sound of the drum. She will also lead us through a healing Midsummer ritual. 

All the three of us will take care of making you feel at home in the saunas, get gentle whisking with the fresh vastas and enjoy ancient sauna healing rituals and incantations. 
 
SUNDAY  
We open the morning with a Campfire Circle, in which everyone who is interested can participate. At Vaikkojärvi you can fish, paddle and row. We have kayaks, canoes, sup boards and hammocks at our disposal. Kotakylä also offers fishing permits. 
 
CELEBRATION LOCATION  

  • In Kotakylä you live in the middle of nature. It is its own secret world on the shore of a wilderness lake, separated from the hustle and stress of modern times. In Kotakylä you can return to your roots and be in direct contact with nature.  
  • You can walk along the edge of a swamp or stream or along a forest path. Or just listen to the sounds and silence of the forest and sense the calming presence of the lake. 
  • You get to experience Kotakylä's magic, peace and wilderness. Enjoy Kotakylä´s Sauna World, cook in the kitchen cabin and stay overnight in a traditional tipi-style hut. 
  • Accommodation is in cottages or in your own tent. There is also a caravan park next to Kotakylä. For cooking and storage, we have a shared kitchen with a refrigerator, cooking utensils and dishes. There are also a few charging points for mobile phones. The toilets are outhouses.  

 
GUIDES OF MIDSUMMER CEREMONIES 
EERO PELTONEN
I am a poetry singer, a heritage educator, a torchbearer of the Northern and Baltic-Finnic poetry and healing traditions. I teach runosinging (folk poetry singing), throat singing and voice work. I have expertise in storytelling, mythology, megalithic art, Nordic mythology, Jungian psychology, dream interpretation, traditional healing and sauna treatments. I lead people to experience their roots by using manifestations of power - the might of songs, words and myths. 
 
In the years 2010-2012, I led a unique 10-month folklore course at Päivölä College in Valkeakoski. The teaching by more than 50 teachers covered the entire spectrum of Finnish tradition; from archaeology to etymology, from folk poetry to folk medicine and from learning manual skills to organizing annual celebrations. I actively perform as a traditional singer and teach folk traditions at various cultural events and educational institutions around Finland. I have also lectured on Nordic traditions, myths and music, e.g. at Liepaja and Vilnius Universities (Lithuania), Tartu University (Estonia), Gjirokastër University (Albania), Isogaisa Festival (Norway) and Kamwa Festival (Urals/Russia). 
 
You can find more information about my work on my website www.eeropeltonen.fi. 
 
JENNI ÖRN  
I am a connoisseur of wild herbs and a dreamer from North Karelia. My task is to train people to use natural plants in different ways. I have studied herbal therapy, flower therapy and various methods of intuitive plant medicine, as well as Chinese medicine, i.e. energy medicine. The biggest teachers for me have been plants and nature itself. In my work, the most important thing is to help strengthen a person's connection to the living environment and thereby strengthen the connection to herself or himself, and to encourage everyone to use their creative power boldly. 
More information: https://jenniorn.com/ 
 
HELENA KARHU 
I am a native North Karelian teacher and practitioner of shamanism. My life's work is related to the memorization and development of folklore in House of the Bear (www.karhuntalo.com), which I founded. I am also doing postgraduate studies at the University of Eastern Finland. My research is on Finnish shamanism. I am the chairwoman and founding member of Pielisen Tietäjäkeskus (Sage Association of Lake Pielinen). I returned to Joensuu in 2018 after 13 years in Copenhagen. Before that I also lived in Spain, Lithuania, Greenland and Alaska. 
 
The spirits of nature and the Nordic ancestors invite me to tell more about the nature of the North, about the ancient nature-spirited tradition, and to combine archaic traditions and ways of modern culture. For me, the sacred natural places of North Karelia are the most sacred in the whole world. They are my soul's home, where I can constantly learn more and more about the world, consciousness and the growth of the soul in connection with all living things. 
 
Registration: 
The participation fee is €285 incl. 10% VAT if you participate in the entire program from Thursday until Sunday.
In addition to this, accommodation in a cottage village or in your own tent 3 nights (Thursday – Sunday) in total €235
 
Everyone brings and prepares their own food. Kotakylä has an outdoor kitchen. If you want meals on behalf of Kotakylä (breakfast, late vegetarian lunch and late evening snack including coffee and tea + fruit), they are €55/day.

Have a beautiful upcoming summer everyone!