Finnish picnic today

IRON MOUNTAIN — The local Finnish Raja Ryhma, Border Group will host its annual Juhannus midsummer picnic Saturday at Bradley Maki Memorial Pavilion at City Park in Iron Mountain.

A meet-and-greet will begin at noon, with a potluck picnic lunch served at 12:30 p.m. Coffee and lemonade will be provided. Everyone is asked to bring a favorite dish or one with a Finnish recipe.

Paula D will provide entertainment throughout the afternoon.

Juhannus originated with the birthday celebration of John the Baptist, Johannes in Finnish. It is planned for midsummer, a celebration of light and the beginning of long summer days. In Finland, they have huge bonfires and often go to lakeside cottages to be with friends and relatives.

They decorate a midsummer pole and magical and strange things are said to happen. People clean their house and clean and press the Finnish flag and hang it out. Legend is that young girls who put seven different flowers under their pillow will see their future husband in a dream.

Many Finnish cities have major festivals, with folk music, bonfires and accordion competitions. Most businesses close between June 20 and 26.

There may have been a long winter with blizzards and dark nights, but one day a year the Finns let loose and enjoy the happiness of sunshine, long days and celebration. The whole nation camps out in the forest.

Everyone is welcome to attend the celebration, even if not a club member or Finnish.

For members, annual dues will be collected at $10 for families and $6 for individuals. Dues can also be mailed to Finnish American Raja Ryhma, P.O. Box 565, Iron Mountain, MI 49801.

For more information, call Karen Wertanen at 715-528-4744 or Ron Huotari at 906-774-5378.