We were lucky enough to be in Sweden on 22 June 2018, and this was when Midsummer eve fell. The Swedish have a bank holiday and everyone celebrates the longest day (England’s equivalent to Summer Solstice).
One of our friends and her boyfriend were back in Sweden with his family and friends and they invited us along to celebrate with them. We headed off to a friends house in Aminne, where 17 of us would be celebrating the longest day.
The weather was on our side, we met his lovely friends who were all so welcoming to us and told us that we’d be carrying out all the traditions of Midsommar in honour of us being there. First up for us girls, it was making flower crowns. We weaved some foliage and wire to create the base of the crown and then added freshly picked wild flowers. The weaving of the flower crowns are to ensure good health throughout the year.
Meanwhile the guys were creating the midsummer maypole, we only had a small one but it was a great creation nonetheless. The pole is covered in greenery and decorated with flowers. To our surprise we learned it resembled a penis and that it is a sign of the earth being fertilised. Later we would be dancing round the maypole!
Once these had been made, it was time to eat and we were lucky enough to enjoy a traditional Swedish Midsummer feast. This consisted of pickled herring, new potatoes and meatballs made with elk and pork. We even tried herring marinated in raspberry and liquorice, I’m not sure this is a traditional marinade but it was surprisingly tasty!
Everyone also poured a shot of Schnapps and were given a song book. We sung (or more like everyone sung and we tried with our best Swedish pronounciation). We were singing drinking songs, one named Helan Går which roughly translates to ‘the whole thing goes and he who doesn’t chug it down, then he won’t get the other half either.’
Midsummer is definitely a day of drinking, and you can see why. It’s the second biggest holiday in Sweden after Christmas.
After we finished lunch, we played some drinking games in teams, these consisted of chugging a beer down with an extra long straw, throwing raw eggs to other team mates and finding a can of beer whilst wearing a cone on your head! The games were a great laugh and a nice way to bring some healthy competition to the day.
Later in the evening we all laughed and ‘frog’ danced our way around the maypole. After this burst of exercise, we were rewarded with the traditional cake, a soft sponge cake layered with vanilla cream, strawberry jam and covered with whipped cream and decorated with strawberrys.
It was a lovely way to see these traditions and to be able to spend Midsummer with some great people, showing us exactly what happens at this celebration.