Unikeonpäivä: Sleepy Head Day in Finland

Every 27th of July is the National Sleepy Head Day in Finland (Unikeonpäivä). That means one thing: the last sleeping family member must be woken up with water.

How the water gets to the person (or how the person gets to the water) is a matter of style and personal choice. The victims of the Unikeonpäivä find themselves awakened by a bucket of water poured over their heads or by being carried over to a river, sea or lake and thrown in.

You better set your alarm on on Sleepy Head Day. This girl didn’t. Source (CC: by)

How the Sleepy Head Day started in Finland

The tradition goes like this. In the Middle Ages 6 Christians slept in a cave for 200 years. They ended up there hiding from a roman emperor and all they could do is sleep. The idea, and the tradition, is that if the Finns oversleep on that day, they’ll might end up sleeping 200 years as those Christians did.

Another popular belief is that if it rains on Sleepy Head Day, it will rain the following 7 weeks. And no Finn would want something like that: it is Summer and it should stay this way. “Last Winter was too long, and a new Winter is fast approaching”, they might think.

It seems that this tradition took roots in Finland in the 6th century A.C. And although it has not caught up evenly throughout the country, there are some places that take it very seriously. Like the town of Naantali.

Sleepy Head Day in Naantali

Naantali – the Finnish town near Turku which most known attraction is the a theme park about The Moomins – has a different tradition for Unikeonpäivä.

They get up extra-early on July 27th and pick a well-known person from Naantali, a local celebrity. They will take this person out of their bed and home and he or she will be thrown into the water.

This happens when you throw something in the water. Like a Sleepy Head. Source (CC: by)

The most famous person ever thrown in the water

One of the best country-wide known Unikekos was thrown into the water on 2004.

That day, the people took the Unikeko out of bed, rolled him up in his sheets by previous Unikekos, and carried him to the water. They threw him in with fanfare. When the Unikeko got out of the water, people saw who he was and gasped. He was the husband of the Finnish President Tarja Halonen, and a law teacher at the University of Joensuu.

It is official: Naantali has the best Sleepy Head Day in the country.

Have you experienced a Sleepy Head Day in Finland? Are you a late sleeper? I know I am. Let us know your perspective in the comments!