5 Estonian Midsummer Traditions Scientifically Guaranteed to Bring Good Luck
Team Jobbatical will be off this Friday, celebrating Midsummer’s Eve—a night of pagan magic and mystery. From jumping over bonfires to warding off backaches through basic acrobatics, here’s a selection of strange Estonian traditions we’ll be sure to follow this long weekend—for luck and prosperity!
But first: What is this Midsummer thing anyway?
If you’re new here (or just observing from a distance), you might be wondering what all this is about.
Well, it’s kind of a big deal. Midsummer (or St John’s Day, Jaanipäev in Estonian) is the pre-Christian celebration of the longest day of the year—the summer solstice. In Estonia, what I can only describe as quite the shindig is held nationwide on the night between June 23rd and 24th, although the actual solstice falls somewhere between the 20th and 22nd… Look, just read the Wikipedia article. Let’s get to the silliness already.
Want to live long and prosper? Ready to make your own luck? Do it the pagan way! Here are our top picks for good luck traditions to follow this Midsummer night in Estonia:
Jumping over a bonfire
The most basic Estonian Midsummer tradition is having a bonfire. The second-most basic tradition is jumping over it. This has countless scientifically proven benefits, from ensuring a bountiful harvest (by frightening off harvest-ruining spirits) to generally making bad luck go away. What have you got to lose (apart from your skin, limbs, hair, clothes, and dignity)?
Bonfire-jumping pro-tip: Wait for the bonfire to die down a bit before attempting this. Also, don’t be drunk for this. Also, maybe don’t actually do this.
Disclaimer: Jobbatical cannot and will not accept responsibility for any bonfire-related accidents that might occur.
Finding the fern blossom
The botanically savvy among you will have spotted the flaw in this plan already—yup, the fern is not a blossoming plant, preferring instead to propagate via the (much less romantic) means of producing spores. Don’t let that stop you from following tradition! Grab a loved one and off you go into the forest at midnight (the timing is crucial) to seek out this legendary flower! Benefits include, but are not limited to, instant wealth, invisibility, and the gift of foresight.
Disclaimer: In no way is this a euphemism for sneaking off to the woods to make out. Ahem.
Finding love through witchcraft
Magic is in the air on Midsummer’s Eve, and a lot of it has to do with romance. Forget Tinder—as a foolproof alternative, pick nine (or seven—opinion is divided) different kinds of flowers on this night, put them under your pillow, and you’ll dream of your future spouse.
Most sources are unclear as to how you’re supposed to actually locate your true love in real life once you’ve had the dream, but I’m sure that’ll work itself out somehow.
Somersaulting in dew-covered grass
This tradition is particularly relevant in today’s world of sedentary office jobs. Feeling stiff? A quick somersault in the magical Midsummer dew will make those back problems disappear. Possible side effects include eternal youth.
Midsummer acrobatics pro-tip: By somersault, I mean one performed on the ground (also commonly known as a forward roll). An aerial somersault is not guaranteed to be effective, due to minimal bodily contact with the miraculous healing dew. Science!
Beer is a Midsummer must. If you don’t enjoy beer, you don’t even need to drink it. But it is vital that beer is at least present at your Midsummer festivities. Presumably, your harvest will otherwise fail. Be warned—everyone around you will likely be so worried about their harvest that they’ll drink extraordinary quantities of beer. Yup—for the harvest!
Definitely for the harvest.
This post was brought to you by Jobbatical’s Cultural Anthropology Department.
If this world of solstice magic and bountiful harvests sounds like something you want to be part of, why not work in Estonia? Find your dream jobbatical here.