How to Celebrate Swedish Midsummer

Swedish Midsummer is coming up this weekend, and we’re giving everything you need to know to have a true celebration! Now a celebration of the holidays, but Midsummer celebrations were traditionally held to welcome the season of fertility. Primarily a celebration for the young, it was also important to the industrial communities of central Sweden, where all mill employees were given a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps. Today, it is now a festival so large it rivals Christmas, with the streets of Stockholm falling silent for three days as residents flee to their summer houses with friends and family.

 

Picking Swedish Midsummer Flowers

 

In 1952, the Swedish Parliament decided that Midsummer should always be celebrated at a weekend. As a result, the observance of Midsummer now varies between June 20 and 26 (this year it is held on 24th June, the Feast of Saint John the Baptist). As the lightest day of the year it has long been considered a magical night. Girls eat salted porridge so future husbands can bring water to them in their dreams and, just to make sure the husbands do, they also pick seven flowers and place them under their pillows. According to Swedish verse, “Midsummer night is not long but it sets many cradles to rock”. So it is not surprising most Swedes are conceived during the Midsummer festivities…

 

The Swedish Midsummer Feast

 

A typical Midsummer menu features an array of pickled herring, boiled potatoes, salmon and wild strawberries, washed down with a cold beer and schnapps, preferably spiced and always accompanied by songs (the racier, the better). After dinner, the dancing begins, usually around a maypole or majstång (no Swedish Midsummer celebration is complete without Små grodorna, a dancing game in which people of all ages hop around the pole while singing about little frogs). Maypoles came to Sweden via Germany in the late Middle Ages, where the pole was decorated with leaves and raised on 1st May. Since spring comes later to Sweden it was hard to find the greenery to decorate the pole, so the tradition was moved to Midsummer, where it is the centrepiece of the celebrations.

We think Midsummer is a wonderful tradition to hold, as the Scandinavian winter nights are long, and our summers are short. Many of our team will be celebrating Midsummer this weekend, and if you’re in Sweden, be sure to join in with the festivities and enjoy the midnight sun!

For more details on the festivities this weekend, head right here!


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