Midsummer Magic

If you ask a Swede what their favourite holiday is, they would probably find it hard to choose between Christmas Eve and Midsummer’s Eve. Midsummer is a magical time in Sweden – at least, that’s how most people imagine it to be. The sun is shining, they escape to their summer cottages and have a wonderful time dancing around a maypole with their families.

OK… so it very often rains, too much alcohol and herring are consumed, and old family wars might break out… Yet it is still a magical holiday.

The tradition of Midsummer celebrations goes back to pre-Christian times as a way of welcoming in the summer and celebrating fertility. Just look at the maypole and you’ll see what I mean.

midsommarPhoto: www.imagebank.se Fredrik Sweger, Lou B/Fredrik Sweger and the Swedish Institute

The maypoles are dressed with leaves and flowers and raised, ready for people to dance around, accompanied by live folk musicians. One of my favourites is the song ‘Little Frogs’ – where you dance around the pole pretending to be a frog (jumping on your haunches while making silly hand gestures).

After this, you eat herring (if you like it – I don’t), new potatoes and, of course, lots of strawberries and cream. The Swedes tend to consume lots of alcohol, so that schnapps drinking songs can be heard long into the night.


10.30 at night

Midsummer’s Eve falls around the longest night of the year, so that it hardly every gets dark. The sun may dip down onto the horizon like a golden or bright orange eye, only to rise again fairly soon after.

What better way to celebrate balmy days and long light nights than with flowers, song and food?

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47 thoughts on “Midsummer Magic

  1. Since summer lasts 20 minutes in Sweden, no wonder people go crazy over every bit of sun. Herring and schnapps – a lethal combination. I quite like the herring with cream and onions, but not too much in one sitting.


  2. That really does sound quite magical!! Chris and I talked about going along to the standing stones at Avebury to view the sunrise but when we discovered that that would involve being up at about 3.30am we decided maybe next year….

    C x


  3. Little Frogs dance sounds like a lot of fun! Your description of this magical event, coupled by the colorful pictures, make me want to fly over there at this moment.

    And that’s 10:30 pm?! Wow.


  4. In Latvia we sing a lot around a burning barrel of pitch on a high pole and a lot of home brewed ale is drunk and new cheese eaten and a lot of young peple disappear into the woods to seek the fern-flower and nine monthes later the inevitable event occurs….
    Here in Australia no festivity occurs.


  5. Very cool! I didn’t realize that sunset would be so late into the evening in Sweden at the solstice. I’m feeling a bit more cultured this morning! ;o)



  6. Strawberries and cream are delicious for any occasion 🙂 I didn’t know your sun would be setting so late… Enjoy your schnapps, my friend (and then maybe the family wars will be missed!)



  7. I believe Sweden is a lot more serious about celebrating midsummer than we are in Norway! I have been in Sweden once, celebrating with Swedish friends – and it was great fun!
    Great photos!


  8. Enjoyed reading about Midsummer in Sweden! Friends of ours, were at the wedding this time last year in Sweden – had a fantastic time, they’re still talking about how special it was!


  9. I wish I could see the froggy dance! The whole thing sounds amazing. If I ever go to Sweden, I need to be sure and plan it for this holiday. . . and learn to eat herring!


  10. Bring on the herring ..but I will pass on the Strawberries and cream and the schnapps too..
    We get dark here now about 9:45 at night..so your 10:30 is way impressive for me.. that is a wonderful photo..which anklebitter stayed up past his or her bedtime ?
    That is one fancy maypole..why do they call it a maypole in June?? 🙂


  11. Sounds like so much fun! I bet the abundance of alcohol explains the Little Frogs dance, though. I’m not sure I would be chowing down on the herring, but my dogs would love it!


  12. I think it would be lovely to dress up and dance round a maypole, especially a bit sozzled and smelling of fish – and being too drunk to care

    Have you ever seen the aurora out there, Fi?


  13. Wow, it brings back memories. I have not celebrated Midsummer in Sweden for maaany years. Most people want good weather, but I am convinced the police are doing their ritual rain dance before they go on the Midsummer Eve shift!
    Sadly far too many people cannot handle the excitement, as in “alcohol”! But the little children (big ‘uns as well) love it all.


  14. Yes we should celebrate. My friend in the Lake district always gets up a mountain where loads of people gather to watch the sunrise. She says the atmosphere is wonderful. Herrings, potatoes and booze – reminds me of the time I spent in Finland!


  15. I can´t believe it´s still so bright at 10:30 at night! When do you go to bed? Stupid question, I know, but I just can´t imagine going to bed when it´s not dark…


  16. Hi Lady Fi, thanks for visiting for Joanna’s interview. I was involved in a maypole dance during an early primary school year annual concert. I had no idea what it all meant, but I loved the rich colours used – I can still see the egg-yolk golden yellow, the lush royal purple and grassy green satin ribbons wrapping around the centre pole and forming a woven effect. Thanks for the memory.


  17. That sounds like it would be right up my alley, especially the strawberries and cream! Yum!

    Never tried herring, to be honest. But I’d like to someday!


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