Celebrating midsummer

We have just come home from visiting my home town and celebrating our swedish holiday midsummer. This holiday is one of the most popular ones we celebrate in Sweden and probably one of the oldest ones as well. Midsummer is celebrated around the summer solstice, in Sweden we always celebrate it on the closest friday (between 19 and 26 June) so people have the whole weekend off. It’s a very old holiday that has pre-christian origin, although the church chose to put their own holiday at the same time to try to integrate christianity more. That didn’t work so well in Sweden as we still celebrate midsummer as a non-christian holiday, for which at least I am quite happy. It’s nice to have our own festival and that it doesn’t have to do with religion, so everyone can join in the celebration of summer.

Midsummer pole at Tjolöholm castle

Midsummer is normally celebrated with family and/or friends with dance around the midsummer pole (midsommarstång), flower crowns on the head and lots of eating (and sometimes drinking) typical swedish summer food like herring, fresh potatoes and strawberries. Some bigger families gather and make their own midsummer pole but the rest of us can go to an event that is arranged for anyone who wants to come. There are plenty of places like that and they often have a big midsummer pole that is raised together, then dance for everyone around the pole, some performance by local folk dance groups, activities for the kids etc. It’s a really nice family event.

Dance performance by a group of local folk dancers

We went to Tjolöholm castle to the midsummer celebrations, it’s usually quite a big event but this year there weren’t as much people as usual. Unfortunately it started to rain, nothing unusual for swedish summer or midsummer but still too bad since midsummer celebrations is best outdoors. Despite the rain there was a lot of people who danced, mostly children and their parents though. There were a lot more people dancing than is shown in my picture here, I just didn’t get a good picture of that. After walking around the area and getting tired of the rain we went home and had a nice dinner with different kinds of herring, potatoes, egg, grilled chicken and of course strawberries and homemade icecream as dessert.

A small fun fact about midsummer is that magic was believed to be strongest on this day so people tried to do different things to predict the future. The most famous and popular one is to pick seven different flowers and put them under your pillow, then you’re supposed to dream of the man (or person) you’re going to marry. The story I have heard growing up is that you need to pick the seven different flowers in seven different fields and climb over seven fences (used to be stone fences so it was easy to climb), while doing this you shouldn’t say a single word until you wake up the next morning. And yes, I have also tried this, though the easier version with only seven different flowers, not the jumping fences part and being totally quiet. Maybe that’s why it didn’t seem to work. Nowadays I don’t need to try it again since I’ve already found my life partner! 😉

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