.there`s no doubt that it`s one of our most important traditions.
It seems like the sun never sets. In fact, in the north of Sweden it doesn’t, and in the south only for an hour or two. This calls for a big celebration! Friends and family gather for the most typically Swedish tradition of all: Midsummer.
We only have summer for approximately 3 – if we are really lucky almost 4 months a year. The rest is darkness and cold. So of course we are extra excited during summer. Since we like to be organized midsummer is always celebrated on the friday between the 19th – 25th of June. When it`s the lightest time a year. Sometimes we have a warmer climate during Christmas Eve than on Midsummer. Sometimes we have sunshine and over 20 degrees – that`s when we are extremely LUCKY! But mostly we have “half-nice-half-warm-totally-rainy-weather”! For weeks before midsummer, it`s all we talk about, how the weather will be on midsummer. We probably spend hours of our lifetime to talk about the weather. But if you think about how rarely we have nice weather and how incredibly dark it is the for the most part of the year – then it`s more understandable.
Midsummer Eve is celebrated on the countryside − as always − and on the day before, everyone leaves town, “everything” closes! Well not intirely true, cause most of our big food stores are selling the concept “Open all days 07-23” and that`s what they have to stick to. But smaller food stores and other stores usually close earlier on midsummerday. So the city streets are suddenly spookily deserted when everyone leave the cities.
People often begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, which is a key component in the celebrations. The maypole is raised in an open spot and everyone makes the traditional ring-dances, to the delight of the children and some of the adults. Teenagers tend to stay out of it and wait for the evening’s “entertainment” (containing more drinking).
A typical Midsummer menu contains pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives. This is often followed by a barbeque in the evening, such as grilles spare rib or salmon, and for dessert the first strawberries of summer, with cream. Regardless if it`s cold and rainy we will celebrate outside. If we get 10 minutes of no rain we will make the table outside and if it starts raining we will basically take the whole table back in again – it stopped raining – we carry it out – and in – and out … And so on. The traditional accompaniment is a cold beer and schnapps. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out anew. We swedes like drinking songs, and the racier the better. And ofcourse I don`t mind.
“Helan går, sjung hopp farellallan lallan lej. Helan går, sjung hopp farellallan lej. Och den som inte helan tar, han heller inte halvan får. Helan går sjung hopp farellallan lej.”
Midsummer means a lot of nostalgia for everyone. And all Swedes are agreed on how it should look like and how it should proceed. So after dinner, some people still might wanna go out dancing, just like in the old days. Preferably on an outdoor dance floor beside a lake as the evening mist settles and the sound of the orchestra echoes back from the rocky hills on the opposite shore.
Mostly we all dress in white and many of us make the effort to wear a wreath in our hair. For me it`s the best part of midsummer. At the moment I`m still lying in bed waiting for the nice weather to come out. Soon there will be breakfast and then a long day of celebration. I will write you a small text about todays activities with pictures later tonight. Time to start the day.