If you haven’t had a chance to be in Sweden around the first Friday between June 19th-June 24th, then you perhaps haven’t seen Swedes drinking and dancing around a pole covered with green leaves. It is Midsummer Celebration and it is Sweden’s big summer party, a tradition-laden holiday and a celebration of the summer heat and the long and bright nights around the time of the summer solstice.
The Midsummer weekend is pretty much a holiday every Swede celebrates. The Midsummer weekend consists of Midsummer Eve and Midsummer Day, usually a Friday which is a day off, a red day. A successful midsummer is considered one when people have been able to be outdoors and celebrate.
So, what Swedes usually do during a midsummer celebration? Meeting friends and family, drinking and eating herring with sour cream and chives, new potatoes that have just been harvested, smoked salmon, pickled salmon, more pickled herring and of course grilling and most importantly: strawberries.
An important part of the celebration is dancing and singing around the midsummer pole. It is common to leaf and decorate a midsummer pole. The real midsummer enthusiasts may be dressed in folk costumes which is the traditional Swedish suit. The night towards midsummer day is considered a bit mysterious. It is so mysterious that the English writer William Shakespeare has even written a play about it: A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In Sweden it is said that if a girl goes out into a pasture at night towards midsummer day and picks 7 or 9 different kinds of flowers and put them under the pillow, she will dream of your future love.
The celebration of midsummer may seem senseless. However, if you live the Swedish dark and cold winter you would understand why Swedes celebrate summer heat and sunny days. Having lived in Sweden for many years, I celebrate midsummer regardless where geographically I am located around that time and even though I don’t usually dance and sing around a pole. I celebrate the summer, the gift of sunny days and long daylight. Simple things like these may easily be taken for granted.