Midsummer’s Night

June 15, 2011 by

Things To Do

Midsummer Maypole - Photo courtesy of Markus Bernet via Wikimedia Commons

Dance around the maypole in Sweden for Midsummer’s night, as the longest day of the year with ancient pagan traditions, this is one of the most unique holidays in Sweden. Drinking and dancing around the bonfire figure prominently. In the morning gather flowers and herbs to decorate the maypole, and traditional dress is often worn along with crowns made of wildflowers. Midsummer night is said to have a special magic and is the perfect time to make wishes and rituals for good luck into the future.

Girls were given salted ‘dream porridge’ in order to have their future husbands bring them water in a dream or else maybe see their reflection in a well or spring. Legend has it that one may also find hidden treasure on this night, and that the magical atmosphere turns water into wine and ferns into flowers. Originally celebrated on June 24th (St John’s day), the Swedish festival has been moved to whichever Saturday falls closest to this date.

The capital, Stockholm may become almost empty as many people head to their summer cottage in the countryside for celebrations. If you’re still in town and in search of Midsummer spirit, join in the family friendly singing and dancing at Skansen open-air museum or go out to Dalarna where the festival continues for days. Midsummer is usually a large gathering that brings the family and friends together at the start of the holiday, after which people can relax and rest at their leisure.

The maypole is associated with fertility rites to bring a good harvest, while the singing and dancing around and around in the endless daylight ensure a magical atmosphere. Young people can pick seven kinds of flowers to place under their pillow, and it is said that they will dream of their future lover/spouse. Traditional midsummer food includes soused herring, chives, sour cream, potato and strawberries washed down with beer and Schnapps, accompanied by drinking songs like Små Grodorna (The Little Frogs song).

-Jodi Rose

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