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Word Wenches: Midsummer Celebrations

Midsommarstång Markus Bernet  CC BY-SA 2.5 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa2.5  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Markus Bernet

Christina right here. In a couple of days it will likely be midsummer and as I’m going to be in Sweden then, I’ll be celebrating greater than ordinary. Nordic summer season nights are particular and there’s nothing extra particular than midsummer – it’s a giant deal in Sweden and will ideally be skilled within the countryside someplace. People head out of the cities en masse with the intention to take pleasure in nature. Maybe due to the lengthy, chilly darkish nights they need to put up with for half the yr, they recognize the sunshine heat evenings of summer season all of the extra. Summer is brief, so this time is treasured, and particularly the longest evening of the yr.

This yr summer season solstice falls on Tuesday 21st June however right here it isn’t all the time celebrated on the right date. The Swedes have determined to all the time have Midsummer Eve on a Friday, so it may be any day between 19th and 25th June. But the sentiment is similar.

In the city the place I keep, we don’t get the midnight solar – that’s solely up within the very north of the nation – however it’s nonetheless fairly shut. It doesn’t actually get darkish all night, only a bit dusky, aside from a really brief time round midnight. If the climate is sweet, the air feels balmy and nice all through the evening and it’s the right time for celebrations.

Raising the pole Adville  CC BY-SA 3.0 httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Adville

First of all, there’s the midsummer pole – midsommarstång – to arrange if you happen to really feel like doing it your self. (If not, there’s often a communal one someplace close by). This is essential. It appears a bit like an English maypole, besides clearly it’s made within the month of June (so does that make it a Junepole?). It’s an enormous cross made out of two tree trunks which are coated in greenery like boughs of birch, leaves and plenty of wildflowers. It could be any dimension you want actually however the communal ones are made out of pretty massive timber. There are usually two spherical “wreaths” hanging off the arms of the cross too, product of the identical supplies. The pole is raised on a inexperienced someplace – fairly an enterprise if it’s massive – and it’s for folks to bounce round in a giant circle, holding palms.

DraktSome folks costume up within the conventional folks costumes for this. Each county has their very own variation, and there are completely different ones for various districts too generally. (Here is mine – from the Tveta district within the county of Småland). When dancing across the midsummer pole, there are many conventional songs with the suitable steps and you’ll inform by the old school lyrics that they’ve been round for a really very long time. To me, they’re principally somewhat infantile as they embody things like Små Grodorna (“The Little Frogs) with steps the place you might be pretending to be a frog. I’ll most likely sit that one out as I’m a bit too previous for hopping nowadays.


Photo by © C. Dahlén

Quite a lot of younger women and girls make themselves flower wreaths for his or her hair. This is a practice which will go way back to Viking occasions. They don’t need to be wildflowers, you should purchase them in order for you, however choosing flowers is unquestionably an enormous a part of the celebrations, particularly for younger women/ladies. There is a perception that it’s important to exit within the night on Midsummer Eve and choose seven wildflowers, naming them quietly inside your head (that is vital, you have to know what kind they’re). During this time, you aren’t allowed to talk – not a lot as a tiny peep. If you do, the entire thing is ruined. Once you may have your flowers, you place them beneath your pillow and they’re speculated to make you dream that evening concerning the man you’re going to marry. I’ve to confess that whereas I used to be single, I attempted this yearly from way back to I can keep in mind, however I by no means dreamed about anybody aside from my canine! So maybe it doesn’t work for everybody …

SillSummer meals is vital at midsummer feasts. It tends to be numerous varieties of pickled herring, the primary new potatoes of the yr boiled with contemporary dill, all served with chopped up chives and both bitter cream or double cream. There will even be knäckebröd – crispbread – and maybe some grilled ribs or different barbecue meals. And for dessert there are contemporary strawberries and extra cream. I’m certain you’re getting the image right here – this isn’t precisely food regimen meals! But if you happen to chase the fish and cream with pictures of snaps (aquavit/schnapps) and a few chilly beer, that’s mentioned to interrupt up all of the fats content material.

Midsummer dancingMost Swedes sing particular songs when ingesting their snaps – the most typical one known as Helan Går. In my household now we have about ten that everyone knows by coronary heart and infrequently a couple of new or completely different ones are added. You need to sing first, then drink half the contents of your shot glass. These days I don’t assume individuals are too fussed, however in my grandparents’ time there have been particular guidelines for this stuff and also you didn’t flout them. It used to fascinate me as a toddler, listening to the adults making their method by means of their repertoire of songs, however the snaps itself has by no means been an amazing hit with me. I can fortunately dwell with out!


Photo by © C. Dahlén

If you aren’t at a midsummer get together or get-together with household, you would possibly wish to go dancing later within the night. There could be barn dances or dancing on a big jetty by a lake – each are pleasant and there’s a sure ambiance that needs to be skilled, it merely can’t be described. There is one thing very particular about being subsequent to a nonetheless lake within the nightfall of a summer season night and it’s sticks in your reminiscence.

Midsummer is meant to be welcoming the season of fertility. For the Vikings, the summer season solstice was most likely a time to honour the gods of fertility, Frey and Freya. They referred to as the month Sólmánuðr (the “month of the sun” which ran roughly from 13th Jun to 12th Jul).

Swedish lakeThere isn’t any concrete proof of any particular midsummer feasting, however we are able to think about there would have been consuming, ingesting and maybe dancing, with homes decked out in greenery. Any celebrations invoking the gods would have included sacrifice – blot – a ceremony often carried out by the grasp of the family, asking for the crops to be plentiful and different undertakings profitable. They might need additionally had big bonfires – that’s what the Finns, Norwegians and Danes do – to chase away evil spirits. For some purpose, Swedes have their bonfire evening on the final day of April, Walpurgis Night, as a substitute. But that’s a unique story …

Glad midsommar – completely happy midsummer!

Will you be celebrating? And if that’s the case, how?


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