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Saturday the 24th was a national holiday - Juhannus (St. John's Day) - previously on 25 June, exactly six months opposite of the 25th of December but now legislated to be on the Saturday between the 20th and the 26th. Like Christmas, that falls conspicuously close to the Solstice, the origins of Juhannus, clearly from pagan festivals are widely recognized as a Midsummer holiday. In regions that hold public celebrations bonfires, maypoles, wreaths of flowers and birches and various other holdovers of pagan harvest and fertility rituals are enjoyed. However, as our local informants have shared, Lapua's dominant cultural groups are extremely conservative and nearly ascetic Pentecostal and Lutheran denominations. Also Lapua is not a large city so there is no public celebration and the typical approach to the holiday is to go to the country (having small summer country cottages is very much a Finnish thing) and spend time with family. We were told that bonfires in this region are during Easter when they burn effigies of witches.
While we enjoyed the civic celebration of Ligō in Riga we didn't feel too cheated that we weren't part of a Juhannes festival as Thursday night we were guests of Egon and Susanna for a backyard party on the night of their wedding. There we sampled a lovely Mallaskuun Peltopyy Pils from a Lapuan brewery and Napue Gin, a product of the newly-founded Kyrö Distillery Company in Isokyrö, which isn't far away. The gin won an international award for best gin and tonic. The assertive flavors of the gin require a diluting that tonic provides and Jo commented are somewhat reminiscent of rye. While writing this blog entry a Google search showed that the distillery started by making rye whiskey before moving onto gin.
All day Friday was at the studio preparing the installation followed by a much deserved sauna at the apartment followed by our version of a traditional dinner with pickled herring, boiled potatoes, pickles, and cold beet salad/soup with some lovely dark bread. Saturday we were planning on only spending a little time at the studio but didn't leave until after 4:00 PM. However, we got nearly finished and felt fine not going in on Sunday. Instead we rode the old