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Midsummer celebration

Midsummer is the biggest celebration of the year in Sweden. Midsummer Eve is always on a Friday between June the 19th and the 25th. It’s the day Swedes celebrate the summer, enjoy the nice weather, drink, eat, sing, and dance. In Sweden, a country with dark winters and short summers, celebrating the light and the warmth is a natural thing to do.


Traditionally Midsummer celebrates the summer solstice (the longest day of the year). It dates back hundreds of years and was used to ensure a good harvest and the fertilization of the ground. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse.

Maypole Midsummer pole

People often begin the day by picking flowers and making wreaths to place on the maypole, which is a key component in the celebrations. The maypole is a tall green pole covered with many leaves and flowers, with a ring of flowers hanging on each side. The maypole is actually a phallic symbol that has been stuck into the ground to fertilize the dirt for next year’s harvest. The word Maypole is also associated with the verb “maja” which means to decorate with leaves for the Mayfest. The maypole is raised in an open spot and traditional ring-dances ensue, to the delight of the children and some of the adults. Teenagers tend to stay out of it and wait for the evening’s more riotous entertainment.

What about the ring dancing around it?

“Små Grodorna” is considered to be an important song, with everybody knowing how to sing and dance to it. Children and adults dance around the maypole in the style of frogs, singing the immortal words which translate as: “Little frogs are funny to look at / They don’t have ears or tails.”

Where shall I celebrate?

Try to celebrate outside and away from the city. Midsummer is, after all, about nature, the warm weather, and the coming summer. Midsummer is a definite outdoor activity, even if the summer weather traditionally gives way to rain just as Swedes are about to settle down.

What should I wear to this Midsummer Party?

A garland of flowers is traditional, most commonly for women and children, but sometimes for men too. Some people also wear folk costumes, corresponding to the part of the country they come from. This is very much restricted to the minority these days, however, and most people turn up in their normal outdoor party gear.

Midsummer menu

A typical Midsummer lunch features different kinds of pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, sour cream with chopped chives and raw red onion. For dessert the first strawberries of summer, with cream or ice-cream.

The traditional accompaniment is a cold beer and schnapps, preferably spiced. Every time the glasses are refilled, singing breaks out. Swedes like drinking songs.

The dinner in the evening is often a barbeque, with all kind of grilled meat and fish.