Midsummer is one of the biggest holidays in Sweden and is typically celebrated outdoors. It is a celebratory day that consists of dancing, singing and lots of food and beverages.foto: Mikael Kristenson via unsplash.com
At first glance Midsummer might seem like a quite
bizarre holiday, where the combination of maypole dancing, drinking songs and
flower wreaths make little to no sense. However, as one of the most celebrated
holidays in Sweden, Midsummer has become an essential part of the Swedish
The origins of Midsummer is historically traced back to the celebration of John the Baptist’s nativity, which occurs yearly on the 24th of June. However, some historians argues that Midsummer comes from pagan traditions. Nevertheless, John the Baptist nor pagan traditions are not on top of everyone’s minds when celebrating Midsummer. Instead, the holiday has become a symbol for friendship, love, fertility and the arrival of the summer solstice. In the 1950’s it was therefore decided that Midsummer eve should always take place on a Friday. As a result, the festivities always occurs between the 20th and 26th of June.
Secondly, we need to discuss food. Swedish people, as
you might know love herring in all of its forms. Unsurprisingly, most Swedes believe that there cannot simply be a midsummer feast without herring and early potatoes on the table. If you are not in favour of herring, do not fret. There will also be a buffet of different dishes and
beverages and you will be able to indulge in Swedish cheese quiche also known as “Västerbotten paj”, smoked
salmon, eggs, strawberry cake and schnapps. However, be aware that the type of
food might change depending on family traditions and location.
Another custom, that is highly associated with Midsummer is drinking songs, which in Swedish is translated to “Snapsvisor”. During dinner, guests will burst out in song and chug down shots of distilled spirits. If you do not know the lyrics to the song, there is no need to worry as there will usually be a song booklet provided with all the important lyrics. So now you’ll be able to sing-a-long to “Helan går” without a care in the world.
Finally, flower wreaths is a must have during Midsummer celebrations. Traditionally, you pick the flowers yourself and make the wreath. However, for us non-creative folks it is possible to buy a store-bought flower wreath, which is something I am eternally grateful for.
Popular midsummer spots
Lastly, If you are new in Sweden, it is quite likely that you do not know any locals or know where the festivities take place. Lucky for you, I have the answer. All over Sweden you will find numerous of public celebrations in parks and green areas which are open for everyone. So I advice you to seek out your nearest local park and join the celebration. If you are in Stockholm, Skansen is especially famous for their midsummer festivities. However, If you are situated on the west-coast I definitely recommend you to take a boat out on the archipelago and visit Smögen, which is one of the most notorious hotspot during Midsummer.