GLAD MIDSOMMAR!!! – HAPPY MIDSUMMER!!!
Midsummer is probably the most important Swedish Holiday there is.
Here in the north the winters are long and dark and there is nothing to lure the Swedes out of their houses as the summer light and the long summer evenings. In the middle of the summer the sun never sets in the north of Sweden and even in the south where we live it’s only dark for a few hours before the sun rises again. As at most big holidays in Sweden the typical food is potatoes, haring, eggs, meatballs, bread, schnapps and drinking songs! Typical for midsummer, but not available for other holidays are the newly picked strawberries for dessert! And the big questions are every year: Will there be enough new potatoes and strawberries for everybody, and What will the weather be like?
One thing is certain, this year Midsummer will most likely be celebrated more in smaller groups and families, instead of large gatherings with a lot of dancing around the may pole, as is the normal practice, due to the current situation.
The Summer Solstice
Midsummer is the period of time centered around the summer solstice, and more specifically the northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary country to country. The celebration predates Christianity, and existed under different names and traditions around the world.
The undivided Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the celebration of St John’s Day begins the evening before, known as St John’s Eve. These are commemorated by many Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, and Anglican Communion. In Sweden, the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. In Denmark and Norway, it may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.
Midsummer in Sweden
Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is an activity that attracts families and many others. Greenery placed over houses and barns was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; the old tradition of decorating with greens continues, but with less superstition attached to it. To decorate with greens was called att maja (to may) and may be the origin of the word majstång, maja coming originally from the month May, or vice versa. Other researchers say the term came from German merchants who raised the maypole in June because the Swedish climate made it impossible to find the necessary greens and flowers in May, and continued to call it a maypole.
In earlier times, small spires wrapped in greens were erected; this probably predates the maypole tradition, which is believed by many to have come from the continent in the Middle Ages.
In Sweden Midsummer’s day is a Saturday between June 20 and June 26, but as is usual in Sweden the actual celebration is on the eve, i.e. a Friday between June 19 and June 25. Midsummer’s Eve is in fact a public holiday in Sweden with offices and many shops closed.
Like in Norway and Finland, it is believed that if a girl picks 7 different flowers in silence of the midsummer night and puts them underneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.