For many Swedes, Midsummer is the start of the annual holiday, which is earlier in Scandinavia than so many other places - we simply love the endless summer nights. Midsummer Eve is usually celebrated in the countryside, which means that everyone leaves town the day before, everything closes, and the city streets are almost deserted. Even Ikea closes the day after Midsummer.
Midsummer is usually an occasion of large gatherings – and in fact, many Swedes take the opportunity to fulfill their social obligations on this day. Often, whole families gather to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer. Often, whole families gather to celebrate this traditional high-point of the summer.
Midsummer is celebrated around the summer solstice, when the Nordic night is the very shortest. Midsummer's Eve in Sweden is always a Friday between 19 and 25 June. This year it is Friday 25th
The Flower Wreath
Having a flower wreath in your hair is also a tradition among children and young people. The wreath is tied with birch twigs or steel wire as a base. Then leaves and flowers are added, preferably freshly picked from nature, which bloom right now. In ancient times, the wreath was saved and placed in the Christmas bath. Through this, you hoped to be healthy for the rest of the winter!
The tradition of celebrating Midsummer goes far back in time, and the short and bright midsummer night was considered magical, full of supernatural beings. Tradition also says that if you put seven different flowers under your pillow on the night of Midsummer Day, you will dream of your future partner. You could also ensure future good health by rolling naked in the midsummer dew! (I am not advising you!!).
A typical midsummer buffet includes different kinds of pickled herring and freshly boiled potatoes with dill. The dessert is the first local strawberries of summer, with fresh cream. The traditional accompaniment is a cold beer and schnapps (Schnaps is the Scandinavian spiced alcohol – taken from small glasses in shots. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out. "Helan går" is the most famous of these songs.
The Maypole is created of a leafy and flower-adorned pole in the shape of a cross. The pole is raised in an open spot, and traditional ring dances take place. It is a little funny that the pole is a Maypole when raised in June. I think this is because the Swedes have borrowed the tradition from a May 1st celebration. Although I have also heard the name derives from the archaic Swedish word maja, meaning “to decorate with green leaves."
The Long Summer nights
After dinner, many people still want to go out dancing, like in the old days. Preferably on an outdoor dance floor by the riverside as the evening mist settles and the sound of the orchestra echoes in the night. Those are for sure the Nordic summer nights to live.
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