Friday the 19th of June marked a very special day for us in Singapore! It was not only the first day of the Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening the economy with a range of restrictions getting eased, but also the very first virtual Finnish Midsummer Party organised in cooperation between the Embassy of Finland, Finnish Business Council (FBC) and Finnish Association (Singaporen Suomalaiset, SiSu).
The event started with summer greetings delivered by FBC Chairman Tiina Haikola, SiSu Chairman Harri Nieminen and H.E. Ambassador Antti Vänskä. The host of the evening was Riku Mäkelä from the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.
Whilst the 2-hour program was delivered virtually, we did have the opportunity to enjoy some Finnish delicacies prepared by HUONE especially for this occasion and delivered to our homes. HUONE Chef Eric Mah and CEO Ian Wu also explained us more about the “Juhannus” menu including many of our favourite Finnish foods such as salmon, steamed baby potatoes, cabbage rolls, Karelian pies and Finnish meat balls (not to be mixed with “Swedish meat balls”!).
Whilst enjoying our food, we got the opportunity to test our knowledge on some Finnish traditions related to Midsummer. At Midsummer, the Finns celebrate the lightest time of the year, and in the north of the arctic circle the sun does not set below the horizon at all for several weeks. Burning bonfires to celebrate a great feast is still a tradition, but did you know that in the old times, bonfires were burnt to dispel evil spirits and bad fortune? Many magical and supernatural aspects have traditionally been linked to midsummer night, and many of these rites relate to fortune and love.
Next on the agenda there was treasure hunting for all the kids and adults who wanted to play along. We saw many Finnish flags being flown. In fact, the midsummer day is also celebrated as the Day of the Finnish Flag!
The treasure hunting was followed by Rasmus Mäkelä performing some amazing card magic (we are still puzzled). We also got to learn some juggling following Rasmus’s example, and later witnessed some very quick learners behind the screens!
After all these activities, we sat down to listen to a famous Moomin story read by H.E. Ambassador Antti Vänskä. Moomin Summer Madness (Finnish title “Vaarallinen Juhannus”, or “Dangerous Midsummer”) is written by Tove Jansson, and the story talks to us about taking life as an adventure. It also reminds us to reflect and realise it’s much about our own attitudes how we face challenges and extra ordinary times. There probably could not have been any better choice for a story at this time!
What also belongs to a traditional Midsummer is music and dancing! We had a privilege to listen to Päivi Aalto and her family performing us some Finnish music. The performance was filmed in advance in a perfect summery set-up by a lake reminding us all what the Finnish summer can be at its best!
If the festival is about music, it’s also about having good time. Comedian Tommi Tuominen got us laughing out loud in front of our screens. “Laughter is the best medicine” they say.
The official program was followed by some free time virtually together, whilst some may have continued the evening outside of their homes for the first time since April.
FBC would like to warmly thank everyone who was part of this very first virtual Finnish Midsummer Party. Special thanks to all our amazing members and friends for organising the event and performing during the evening, and of course to every single participant who made the party a success!