CULTURE

CELEBRATING THE SWEDISH MIDSUMMER FESTIVAL

- 25 June 2021

Midsummer day is the most celebrated day of the year for the Swedes. You may even call it the Christmas of summers. It is celebrated on the Saturday between June 20 and June 26. But in Sweden, the actual celebration is on the eve. Definitely the most celebrated Friday night of the year, which is followed by a public holiday in Sweden. The magic of midsummer is intensified by it always being on the weekend.

 Every festival has many traditions attached to it. They also come with interesting facts and ideas that go behind them. We have shared some of the unique aspects of the Swedish celebrations with you. Read up and get in the spirit of celebration.

A CELEBRATION OF THE ONSET OF SUMMER

Originally associated with the day of Summer Solstice, the festival is said to mark the longest day of summer. Sweden experiences a harsh cold climate most of the year.

The brightness and warmth of summer is worth celebrating. In the northern cities, you can experience a midnight sun, as it never really sets.

THE TRADITION OF 7 FLOWERS

This is a tradition that both men and women participate in. However, it’s most common among young girls. It is said that if you pick out 7 flowers and sleep with them under your pillow, you will dream of your future spouse.

This makes the festival full of love and romance. Who doesn’t want to determine who their soulmate is, after all?

THE MAYPOLE AND FERTILITY

The Maypole is a big pole erected in the open garden. It is decorated with leaves and more greenery. It is believed that it has a German origin and came to Sweden in the Middle Ages.

It is often regarded as a symbol of fertility. It is a way of worshipping mother nature, with hopes of a rich harvest.

THE TRADITIONAL FROG SONG AND DANCE

The Swedes have a traditional song about frogs called “Små grodorna” or the Frog Song. The people gather around the Maypole and sing it as they dance around it in a circle. The people also enjoy dancing while mimicking a frog.

This dance is something that is enjoyed by all age groups. Frogs, in the end, bind all the generations together.

AQUAVIT- THE DRINK OF CHOICE

Midsummer is famous for its happy and carefree environment. To top off the pre-existing excitement, there are the drinks. Aquavit is an important part of Nordic drinking culture, where it is often drunk during festive gatherings. In Sweden, It’s served chilled.

It’s often drunk in a single gulp from a small shot glass. It is served with the delicious pickled herring and cured salmon. “Helan Går”, “När Gäddorna får” and “Tänk om jag hade lilla nubben” are famous drinking songs. These are known as “Snapsvisa” in Swedish.

Women in floral dresses

 Girls making flower crowns  

The traditional blue and white dress

THE MIDSUMMER WREATH AND THE DRESS

As a tradition, girls and women wear a midsummer wreath on midsummer eve. These flower crowns or wreaths are prepared by the women themselves. They bind flowers and a few leaves around a steel thread to make these delicate accessories. These are mostly made with some colorful and pretty summer flowers. Apart from this, the people may even dress up in traditional Swedish attire. You can find the men dressed in blue and white shirts and pants. While the women usually opt for white or floral flowy dresses.

THE GAMES

After all the food and dancing, people enjoy playing games. Different family games played are called ‘femkamp’. These include outdoor games like croquet and sack race. Other times, people come up with new games for the occasion, that they make on their own.

Apart from these, one of the popular outdoor games is ‘kubb’. Players have to knock down ten small wooden blocks, which are the kubbs and one large wooden block called the king. They achieve this by throwing wooden sticks.

STRAWBERRIES ARE A MUST

Strawberry is the most favourite fruit in Sweden. Due to the cold weather, the Strawberries take a longer time to ripen. This gives them the time to collect abundant light that promotes sweetness. You may even call the Swedish strawberries the best in the world. They are consumed regularly and are a big part of Midsummer. You can always see them on the dessert table. They are served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. The strawberry cake is a favourite for all kinds of celebrations.

Read more about the traditional cuisines served on Midsummer here.

The exuberant atmosphere and positivity in the air make Midsummer a cherished holiday. The exquisite cuisines and drinks make the evening even more tempting. Celebrating with loved ones and exchanging happiness and warmth is what makes this festival so special. On this eve, people are blessed with a sun that never sets, and the party just keeps going.

If you have never witnessed this Swedish tradition, then this should definitely go in your bucket list. What are your favourite things about this celebration? Let us know in the comments below.