Celebrating Midsummerís Eve in Sweden

By: Robb Stark

Midsummerís Eve is almost like a holy day for Swedish people. People look forward to it and plan the party surrounding it sometimes months ahead. Because the winters in Sweden can be very cold and especially dark Ė in some places the sun never rises at all for months Ė Midsummer is just as much a celebration of the sun and the light returning as the summer itself.

Midsummer always coincides with the summer solstice every year. This means the day of the year with the most day light hours and therefore also the shortest night. For people living in the northern hemisphere this always happens around the twenty first of June depending on leap years and so forth. Above the Arctic Circle the sun never sets at all and it is day twenty four hours a day. Below the Arctic Circle the sun does set, however, but very late and not very low. As a result the nights being very short and dim rather than dark; a perfect opportunity to party would not you say?

Midsummerís Eve always comes on a Friday between June twentieth and June twenty sixth. Most people only work half a day on this day, as Midsummerís day is a holiday according to the Swedish calendar.

A classic Swedish Midsummer celebration includes eating lunch outside in the sun - hopefully. Classic dishes are many different flavors of pickled herring together with sour cream, chive, and red onions, newly picked Swedish potatoes that are served boiled and strawberries with milk for desert.

A lot of drinks are usually consumed as well. Beer is the preferred choice of the day together with as many different flavored kinds of snaps as possible. Many Swedes choose to flavor their own snaps from old traditional recipes. The most common spices that are used are cumin, fennel, elderberry, different fruits and aniseed, not necessarily all together at the same time however.

Dancing and games are also part of the celebrations. A Midsummerís pole is usually raised in a local meadow or field for people to congregate around after lunch time. The pole is like a large cross dressed in green brushwood with two large rings hanging on either side of the horizontal part of the cross. Many feminist-oriented people often complain that this is an old phallus symbol but in reality it is a Christian symbol initially from Germany dating back over a thousand years. Grownups and children alike perform classic dances around the pole accompanied by Swedish folk music band with violins and accordions. If you want a taste you can listen to Peter Stormareís partner in the movie Minority Report.

On a more serious note, this is one of the Swedish policeís busiest day and night of the year. Plenty of minors get way too drunk and a lot of accidents tend to happen. Because many people celebrate Midsummer in the Swedish archipelago there are always drowning accidents and things of this unfortunate nature that occur every year.

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Robb is writing about the Swedish tradition of celebrating midsummer. Read more about parties at boka festlokal or personalfest jobbet

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