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Summer is the most wonderful season in Finland. This is Tiina's completely impartial opinion :)
We wait for summer to return during all other seasons. When will you see the first swallows return home? According to a Finnish saying, this marks the start of summer.
We also have a little joke about Finnish summer: the summer may be short, but thankfully there is only a little snow! Indeed we try to extend our enjoyment of summer as far into spring and autumn as possible, by planting pot flowers on the balconies and terraces. It is no coincidence that the popular pot flower, violet is a source of inspiration for so many artists. The most famous of them is Birger Kaipiainen and his ‘Sea of Violets’ art installation for the World Expo 67 in Montreal in 1967. The much loved Viola decoration was later produced for the public in 3 different sizes.
Summer truly begins when we get to eat and barbecue outside, first on sheltered terraces, and continuing all summer long – at the summer cottage, in the back garden, whilst hiking in the forest, or even, in true Moomin-style on a boat trip to an island!
As a common slogan, that describes the Finnish mindset well is: better food, better mood. This is also true for summer picnics. When you pair good food with the right dishes for the summer, the atmosphere is perfect. Read more for suggestions on some of the best Finnish summer delicacies and what dishes to serve them with!
However, to begin with I would like to tell you more about the changes in nature, which symbolize the progress of summer for Finns – because nature is our calendar.
When will the lily-of-the-valley or ‘kielo’, the Finnish national flower bloom, and flood the forests with its scent? To whom would you give the first fragrant bouquet of summer? We love bringing the delicate scent of lily-of-the-valleys and many other wildflowers found in summer meadows to fill our home with freshness. Vases with a small opening, such as Esteri Tomula’s Botanica vases, are well suited for these delicate creatures. See our vases here.
On the other hand, beautiful drinking glasses, such as the Flora design, are perfect for small bouquets of wildflowers. Delicate wildflowers don’t last long in a vase, but the children scamper across the fields and forests to pick up new fresh bouquets every day. Summer brides are often also decorated with these dainty summer wildflowers.
Due to the long holidays, many celebrations are held during the summer: Confirmations, Weddings, and family gatherings. Table settings for the summer parties are allowed to be colourful, and it doesn’t matter whether you have matching dishes for all the guests. Finns really appreciate dishes that are easy to combine, and that is why Arabia dishes always have many different decorations for the same model, and Iittala's glass series come in many wonderful colours. Summer parties feel relaxed and the atmosphere can be further enhanced with playful patterns such as in Marimekko napkins.
However, the most important of the summer festivities is the longest day of the summer, midsummer or ‘Juhannus’, when you can enjoy the magical nightless night and the midnight sun. During Midsummer, people gather together to light bonfires or ‘kokko’ along the shores, cast magic spells, go to dances and, of course, barbecue sausages on campfires. On Midsummer night, if you gather seven meadow flowers and place them under your pillow, you will meet your future lover in your dream!
So it’s no wonder that flowers and plants are prominently displayed in Finnish summer dishes. The flower decorations in the dishes do not wither and this way we can continue to enjoy them, even as the evenings become darker and the season changes. In particular take a look at the floral designs of Esteri Tomula and Raija Uosikkinen. They are the summer favorites of Finnish tables. Especially the flower-patterned coffee cups, as these are an essential part of the summer atmosphere.
The day that the cows are let out of the barn to graze on summer pastures is so exciting that it makes the evening news! Finns adore the sympathetic mustikki and mansikki (nicknames for black&white and brown&white cows), and of course love milk products. Therefore it is no surprise that the number one summer delicacy is ice cream. In the summer, ice cream is sold especially in cones or made into delicious ice cream parfait in beautiful glass bowls. You can build wonderful ice cream parfait in for example Pioni, Fauna, Kastehelmi or Flora bowls. See our glass bowls here.
The sweetest moment of summer is when nature offers you its first harvest of summer. You can wander in the woods picking wild strawberries into your own enamel mug, and mix it up into strawberry milk. Often, at summer cottages each family member has their own personal cup, with their favourite decoration. Enamel dishes are wonderfully carefree, perfect for the cottage and camping, as they can withstand heating on a campfire just as well as on the stove. Often the classic Moomin enamel mugs are preferred, after all, the Moomins love summer and nature. Which one is your favorite? See the cute Moomin enamel designs here.
Another very special summer moment is, when we take the first blueberry or rhubarb pie of the summer, made with foraged or home grown ingredients, out from the oven and get to present it at the coffee table. The freshly-made pie is then eaten with ice cream or vanilla sauce. Most coffee cup designs have their own cake plate, or “pullalautanen” for sweet treats. When browsing our coffee cups, please check to see if there is a bundle offer for the cake plate and cup. Small glass plates are also lovely for the sweet treats of summer. See our glass plates here.
Our favourite Finnish summer pastime is relaxing in your own, relative’s, or friend’s summer cottage. If you ever want to experience a Finnish summer, renting a cottage for the weekend won’t cost you very much. Then all you need to do is warm up the sauna and go! We look forward to the moment, when the lake water or sea water is warm enough, that we can go swimming for the first time, or as we say in Finnish “throw off our winter fur coats”. The epitome of summer is to sit outside on the pier, looking at the view, whilst cooling off after a hot sauna and enjoying the all-important ‘sauna drink’. It can be any sort of beer, juice or soft drink, most important, is that it is refreshingly cool and that you hydrate plenty from nice tall glasses. See our tall beer and juice glasses here.
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