The midsummer in Sweden (or Midsommar in Swedish) is their classic and ultimate summer celebration. This event is an annual celebration that the Swedes look forward to having throughout the year. This event is such a magical, extra-special festival celebrated with much enthusiasm and entertainment. This day marks the second most important holiday (after Christmas), which is always commemorating closer to the summer solstice.
We hope to bring you a few exciting and important pieces of information about midsummer in Sweden through this article.
History of Midsummer in Sweden
Midsummer was celebrated on June 24th, traditionally. This is the feast day of St.John the Baptist, but the holiday has its origins in a pre-Christian solstice festival. Besides eliminating such pagan festivals, the early Catholic Church found it more efficient to link them by associating with Christian celebrations. The establishment of December 25th, close to the winter solstice as the date to Jesus’s birthday, the Church enabled itself to accept the pagan midwinter solstice of Yule into the Christian celebration of Christmas. According to the biblical sources, the birth of Saint John the Baptist has taken place six months prior to Jesus. This means that his born day marks are equally linking with pagan summer celebrations.
In 1953, The Parliament of Sweden decided that their midsummer celebration should always be celebrated on a Friday. And as a result, the observances of midsummer now extends between June 20 and 26.
Historically, Swedish summer traditions mark their origins in pre-Christian,sun-worshipping cultures.
How Was It Celebrated Back Then?
During the Agrarian times, the celebrations of summertime denoted the season of fertility. In some areas, people dressed up as ‘green men’ clad in ferns. People also used foliage to decorate their houses and farm tools in the 1500s.
The iconic Maypoleor the Midsommarstang is known to be originated fromGermany.According to the sources, the Maypole or the Midsommarstang has designed likely in the 18th or 19th century. The sources further say that tall raised maypoles marked a prominent place to dance around. And they also say that it is a phallic symbol that symbolizes fertility.
The ancient Swedes believed that the plants are magical through that time. Furthermore, they thought that supernatural beings were most active, making it a perfect time to collect healing herbs and predict the future.
Though midsummer in Sweden primarily a festival of the young crowd, industrial communities in central Sweden also celebrated. Usually, the mill employees got a feast of pickled herring, beer and, schnapps. And this continued with all the Sweden traditional festivities after the 1900s.
The Present Midsummer Celebrations in Sweden
The midsummer celebration generally starts around noon. Then, friends and family usually gather around the nearest park or archipelago for a small picnic. The Maypole stands raised in the center of the park, and then the festival begins.
Dancing and Singing
Marking the beginning of the festival, they perform a traditional dance. A troup wearing a traditional dress performs the first dance before anyone else joins in. The ‘frog dance’ ( Sma grodorna in Swedish), which means ‘The Little Frogs,’ is an exceptional dance that one should see and experience in a lifetime. In this dance, the people jump around the pole rhythmically, pretending to be frogs. Apart from this dance, there are exhibitions of folk dancing, ring dances, and games for all ages of people at present.
Singing is equally important in their midsummer festivals. Good, old-fashioned drinking songs are not at all a failure throughout the celebration. As the night goes on, their songs tend to get louder and more rollicking!
Decorations and Costumes
When it comes to costumes and decorations in Swedish midsummer festivals, flowers have a prominent place. The young and little children, especially young girls and women, put wildflowers in their hair. They gather flowers and weave them into a wreath or a crown (krans) to harness nature’s magic to ensure good health. Weaving flowers is a significant observance in their festival. They even decorate the Maypole or the Midsommarstang with green garlands and flowers. The folklore says that if they pick seven flowers and put them under the pillow of an unmarried girl, they’ll dream of their true love on the night of midsummer.
Swedish midsummer is a time to wear very summery outfits. They usually wear thin fabrics like linen and silk with floral prints and light colors. It is also common to witness the older Swedish generation wearing traditional Swedish folk costumes in their festivals.
Food and Drinks
The food and drinks of a Swedish midsummer festival hold an undeniably remarkable place. Their traditional food table, called the smorgasbord, consists of a little bit of every food item. Here, they would have a variety of sill (pickled herring), boiled potatoes with dill, eggs, cured salmon, and hard bread. Other favorites include skagenrora ( a divine mix of prawns, mayonnaise, creme fraiche, lemon, and dill) and vasterbottenpaj ( a cheese quiche). Dessert items usually include strawberries, either together with cream, milk, or ice cream.
Their most stereotypical drink is Snaps. It is a strong shot of flavored alcohol (akvavit or vodka). These shots are often flavored with spices like anise, caraway, dill, or fennel. Light beer is also a part of beverages among the shots at their celebrations.
Where to Celebrate Midsummer in Sweden?
As per the sources, the countryside is the best choice to celebrate midsummer in Sweden. The countryside of Sweden is the ideal area to experience the classic Swedish midsummer celebrations. Sammilsdal in Leksland in Sweden’s central region, Darlana, is the best-known place to have the world’s largest midsummer celebration. Dalarna hosts a unique festival culminating in the church boat ( kyrkbatar ) races held on Lake Siljan. This celebration attracts over 20,000 people.
Areas such as Goteborg or Blekins too provide a better taste of Sweden’s midsummer. However, a special celebration occurs in Stockholm, Skansen- the world’s oldest open-air museum.
After a day of feasting and celebration, a swim by the light of the midnight sun is a magical and unforgettable experience to have. Ski-in the midnight sun with schnapps and singing is also would be a moment to cherish!
So, when are you going to have this magical experience by visiting Sweden?