How To Jo-Hannus Your Face Off
Juhannus. Without doubt, it is my favourite holiday of the year. Perhaps this has more to do with the novelty of having only ever actually celebrated it twice than it’s importance in the calendar, but I love it nonetheless.
Two years ago, I allowed Juhannus to pass me by. Being British and not a druid, I was totally unaware that midsummer was even upon me, let alone needed to be celebrated. Thus I booked a short trip to Estonia and was totally unaware that the majority of Finland was in a drunken stupor.
Upon my return to Helsinki I was confronted by a ghost town. The city had shut down. My only form of entertainment was to trawl the streets pretending that I was the star in a zombie apocalypse film. At least I know that I provided some laughs for the few ‘zombies’ who stayed in the city, although I am not certain that they would have appreciated me screaming as I ran from them.
Last year I was thoroughly more prepared for Juhannus. I had acquired the one thing that is absolutely vital to receiving invites to social functions – friends. With those friends, I was whisked away to the woods of Inkoo, where I enjoyed a day and night of singing, sauna and general merriment whilst feeding the mosquitoes on my alcohol soaked blood. I was so overcome by the occasion that I wrote this article about it.
Juhannus 2011 left quite the impression upon me. It would be remiss of me to pretend that it was not one of the major factors in my decision to return to Helsinki this year. The summer would simply be unbearable without an EXACT replica of the previous year’s festivities (allowing for the substitution of my friends Ben and Emma – they look fairly similar anyway).
This year’s Juhannus surpassed it’s predecessor in flamboyant style. The setting was the same, as was the majority of the activity, although many of the protagonists had changed. We drank, we sang songs, we sat in the sauna, we were eaten by mosquitoes, we formed a band at four in the morning that can only play songs in the key of C, we spontaneously turned a small corner of the woods into a nightclub that exclusively played music from the 1990s and of course we revisited woodland croquet.
The occasion was so mind bogglingly fantastic, that we even turned it into a verb. One of the solecisms that I feel most adversely towards in the English language is the use of the word ‘party’ as a verb. A quick trawl of the on line dictionaries does show that the term can be used as such, with the earliest origin that I can find being 1919. However, it is ugly. I do not ‘party’, nor have I ever been ‘partying’ or have I ever ‘partied so hard that my face fell off’. No thank you very much.
All of which makes my conversion of the word Juhannus into the verb ‘to Jo-hannus’ slightly hypocritical. There is not one bone in my body that cares. This weekend I Jo-hannused with such vigour and enthusiasm that my face nearly did fall off. I fully intend to Jo-hannus next year too.