Finnish group plans annual picnic

IRON MOUNTAIN — The Iron Mountain Finnish American Raja Ryhma organization will host its annual Juhannus Picnic on Saturday at the Iron Mountain City Park.

A meet-and-greet will start at noon at the Bradley Maki Pavilion, located near the Deer Park. A picnic lunch will follow at about 12:30 p.m.

Attendees are asked to provide a potluck dish to share. They encourage everyone to bring their favorite Finnish recipe dish. Coffee and lemonade will be provided, but attendees are asked to bring their own plates and silverware.

Paula D will provide the entertainment throughout the afternoon. Prizes also will be given out. All are welcome.

Juhannus is a national holiday in Finland. It originated with the birthday celebration of John the Baptist. It is held in midsummer, a celebration of light and the beginning of long summer days. In Finland, Finns often go to lakeside cottages to be with friends and relatives to rest and relax and party. Many Finnish cities have major festivals with folk music, bonfires and accordion competitions.

Sometimes they decorate a midsummer pole and magical and strange things are said to happen. Maidens may gather flowers to put under their pillow and dream of a future mate. Many weddings take place.

There may have just been a long winter with blizzards and dark nights, but the whole nation camps out in nature with bonfires, known as a kokko in Finnish, and plenty of food and drink to celebrate Juhannus.

Annual dues for membership can be paid at the picnic. Dues are $10 for a family and $6 for a single person. Dues can also be mailed to Finnish American Raja Ryhma, P.O. Box 565, Iron Mountain MI 49801.

For more information, call Ron Huotari at 906-774-5378 or Karen Wertanen at 715-5280-4744.

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