Friday, July 27, 2012

The Seven Sleepers, National Sleepy Head Day (Finland) and Friday night on the Other side of the Bar

In Finland, today is National Sleepy Head Day. Meaning if today was the day you choose to sleep in past -let's say 7am, someone might just come in and douse you with water or throw your butt into a lake as part of a celebration honoring the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. What can I say, things are just different in Finland...

The story goes, that during the reign of the Roman emperor Decius (about 250AD) in the city of Ephesus (in what is now Turkey), seven young men were accused of the crime of following Christianity. They were given time to consider their situation and either denounce their beliefs or face their punishment. Rather than change their beliefs they decided to leave behind all that they owned and go into the mountains to pray. Once they had reached the mountains they found a cave where, exhausted, they fell asleep.

Upon hearing of how the young men had fled to the mountains, the emperor himself and his soldiers went searching for them. When they came across the young men all fast asleep in a cave Decius ordered the cave and the young men's fate sealed for eternity.

During the reign of Theodosius II (408–450), the then landowner of the cave decided to open it up for future use as a cattle pen. Upon the unsealing of the cave the Seven Sleepers awoke and thinking their slumber only lasted one day sent one of their members into Ephesus to buy food. When the young man arrived in town he was shocked to discover churches in the center of town. He was unaware that 200 years had past and in that time Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire. The townspeople noticed the young man, who wore clothes from another age and carried coins from emperor Decius time and notified the bishop.

The bishop questioned the young man, who told him what he knew about their last days before slumber and brought the bishop back to the cave. There, the rest of the Seven Sleepers told him their miraculous story then all seven died praising God. 

Back to Finland...

Traditionally on Sleepy Head Day, the last person in a house to wake is generally woken up with water, either by dousing them in their bed or by carrying them to a nearby lake and tossing them in. Certain towns celebrate the day with a parade and the festive ritual of throwing a local celebrity into the water.

The Historical Inebriant: The Sleepy Head Cocktail


3 oz Brandy
5 Mint Leaves
Ginger Ale 
Add the mint leaves and brandy to a chilled highball glass. Lightly muddle the mint, then add ice.  Fill with ginger ale and stir gently. Garnish with an orange twist.


As we all prepare for another weekend out and about, consider....

What Friday night looks like from the Other side of the bar?


                                                     Music to wake up to

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