Summer in Sweden is a very important time. It has the feeling of a celebration all summer long. The temperature in Fahrenheit is in the 60’s to low 70’s during the day, and cools off considerably at night. Despite the coolness many will head to the beach at the Baltic Sea, as part of the celebration. And, yes, go in the cold water. The Midsummer celebration, is considered by some Swedes, as the most important holiday celebration. By some it is the second most important holiday, next to Christmas.
This year the Midsummer holiday is being celebrated the 22nd,which is Friday. With Midsummer eve starting the celebrations. Midsummer is on or near the longest day of the year. The holiday has been moved to coordinate with a Friday, so it can be a long weekend. At this time the sun rises at 3:50 a.m. and sets at 22:09 (or 10:09). In six months from now it will rise at 8:45 a.m. and set at 3:05 p.m.
One tradition is for a maiden to pick seven different wildflowers and put them under her pillow on Midsummer eve, and she will dream of her future husband.
On midsummer day, maidens are to make a wreath of wildflowers, (hopefully not the smashed ones from under her pillow) to wear on her head. This is called a Midsummer crown. Here is a picture of a little girl with a Midsummer crown.
Dancing around the May pole, or Midsummer pole is part of the tradition. I always thought the May pole dancing was done on the 1st of May. But in Sweden, there is not enough greenery to decorate the pole in May. So they dance around the pole on Midsummer. During the dancing, tradition is to move like a frog, or chicken, or flying bird, or other animal. The design of the pole is also different in Sweden.
Then here is the traditional costumes,and dance.
The celebrating will have folk songs, and dance. Some will wear traditional dress. Picnics highlight new potatoes, crème fraiche with chives, strawberries, pickled herring, and schnapps. For many it is an excuse for overindulgence in schnapps.
In the US, the first day of Summer, only gets a nod. Or a comment such as, “I can’t believe this is the first day of Summer, it has already been so hot.” We wait till the 4th of July to celebrate. But, it’s not on the same scale as Midsummer in Sweden.