Swedish Midsummer

What is Midsommar? Shining the spotlight on Swedish Midsummer

Swedish Midsommar is one of the better-known traditions in the region, popular for its traditions of dancing, flowers, and drinking songs. Here’s everything you need to know about Swedish Midsummer. 

Sweden is a special place for many reasons. A visit to this incredible Scandinavian country will bring you face-to-face with beautiful sights, incredible experiences, and wonderful tastes too. 

Of course, perhaps the most compelling part of Sweden is its people, and the unique traditions, heritage, and history they bring to the country. 

Sweden is home to many fantastic celebrations and events taking place all throughout the year. From crayfish parties to winter holidays celebrating Scandinavian gnomes, there’s something for everyone.

What is Swedish Midsummer? Defining Midsommar

Swedish Midsummer, known by the locals as “Midsommar”, is a popular celebration in Scandinavia. As you might expect, it takes part in the midst of Summer, with Midsummer Eve falling on the 25th of June in 2021. 

Midsommar feels a lot like a never-ending outdoor lunch party, where people rediscover their connection with nature, drink schnapps and enjoy plenty of delicious food. 

An event involving dancing around a large pole might seem a bit weird at first, but it’s also one of the oldest traditions celebrated in the country. 

After exhausting and long winters with very little sunlight, Swedes are often keen to celebrate when the summer finally does arrive. Midsommar is widely regarded as one of the most important days of the year, similar to Christmas in other parts of the world. 

Anyone can celebrate Swedish Midsummer, even if you’re not from the country. The most important thing you can do is get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature, just like the Swedes. There are also some fantastic traditions to explore, which we’ll come to in a minute.

Swedish Midsummer

When do they celebrate Midsummer in Sweden?

So, when is Midsummer? 

Originally, Midsommar was celebrated on June 24th, which is also the day of the feast for St John the Baptist. However, most people agree this celebration isn’t as “Christian” as some churches would suggest. 

The Swedes generally prefer to celebrate this occasion at some point towards the middle or late June. 

The answer to “When is Modsommar” depends on the year. Swedes always celebrate Midsummer Eve between the 19th and 26h of June, and some people will often start collecting flowers and making wreaths as soon as the day arrives. 

In 1952, the Swedish Parliament decided Midsummer should always be celebrated on a weekend, so everyone has an opportunity to get involved.

Midsommar explained: The Midsommar festival

The Midsummer festival (or Midsommar) is a massive celebration common throughout multiple regions of Scandinavia. Though there are many traditions to explore with this annual event, the majority of the celebration revolves around the maypole. 

The Midsummer maypole, or Midsommarstången, is intended to be a symbol of fertility, according to some professionals. Others say the pole is also Nordic in nature, representing heaven and earth. 

To begin the celebration, Swedes decorate the maypole with leaves, flowers, and wreathes made by hand. Flowers are everywhere during this event, and many people wear them around their necks, in their hair, and use flowers to decorate tables and chairs where people will sit and eat. 

You can also find some gorgeous themed salt and pepper shakers, like these

Swedish tradition also suggests picking at least seven different kinds of flowers during Midsommar and placing them underneath your pillow. Some parts of the country recommend at least nine flowers. Apparently, the blooms will help you to dream about your future spouse. 

Swedes believe flowers play a big part in their love lives. Garlands apparently attract potential partners, and Midsummer traditions suggest anyone can fall in love on this amazing day. 

If you’ve never experienced Midsummer yourself, it’s definitely worth visiting one of the places where the tradition seems most significant. In Dalarna, the locals arrange a host of events leading up to the big day, and there are tons of festivities in Gothenburg too.

Dancing really is one of the main foundations of Midsummer in Sweden. The most common dance is the “frog dance”. This involves Swedish locals hopping around the maypole, holding hands, and singing the song “Små grodorna”.

Swedish Midsummer

Is Midsummer real in Sweden?

Yes, but it’s nothing like what you might have seen in a recent horror movie. 

Swedish Midsommar is all about friendship, nature, and celebrating the summer. It’s an event where we enjoy the great outdoors, soak up the sunlight, and even look for a little romance in between a range of silly games and odd traditions. 

Herring is the meal of the day for Midsommar. 

There are often huge amounts of herring available at any Midsummer feast, from pickled and smoked fish, to fermented herring served with onions and dill. Aside from fish, you can also expect to see plenty of strawberries too. 

Traditional Swedish Midsummer fans demand the strawberries have to come from Sweden to count for the big day. 

The demand for Swedish strawberries leads to a lot of conversation in the media about upcoming harvests. Many news reporters often talk about whether the berries will be ripe in time for the festivities, and whether they’ll be smaller, or larger than normal. 

Probably unsurprisingly, Midsummer in Sweden also involves a lot of chat about the weather. Talking about the weather is a big part of the history of Sweden, and the locals really crank things up a notch during the three-day weekend. 

The country holds its breath for a sunny day, but rain and even snow can be common during Midsummer. 

In between conversations about weather, the Swedes drink a lot of schnapps and beer throughout Midsommar — it’s one of the biggest drinking days in the country. 

The schnapps are often far stronger than you’d imagine, and it helps to plan ahead for the big day. You might struggle to get your hands on some traditional drinks if you leave it too late. 

The day drinking also comes with a lot of drinking songs, such as Helan Går, which is basically about drinking as much as you can.

Celebrating the Midsommar tradition

Midsummer in Sweden is such a popular event, many parts of the world have also begun to embrace a version of it for themselves. There are plenty of children in the US and England who also dance around a maypole in July to get a taste for Swedish life — even if they don’t realize it. 

Anyone is welcome to give this celebration a try, so it’s definitely worth looking into it yourself. Just remember to decorate your tables with plenty of bright colors and flowers. A table cloth like this is a great start

Of course, if you want to get a real taste of what Midsommar can be like, then you should definitely consider visiting Sweden yourself. 

For many throughout Sweden, Midsummer is more than just a day to get outside and enjoy the weather. Legend has it the Midsommar Eve is a magical time for love, where people can find the man or woman of their dreams (literally). 

Like Whitsun, another Swedish tradition, Midsummer is a popular time in the year for weddings, Christenings, and other love-based ceremonies in Sweden. 

Although Swedes don’t generally visit churches as much as their counterparts, they can often use country churches for these big events during Midsummer celebrations. 

For decades, Midsummer has been a time of magic for the Swedish locals, and a wonderful opportunity to bring people together. 

A three-day weekend where locals gather flowers to weave into wreaths and crowns is a great way to regain a connection with nature, and even improve your chances of good health throughout the year. 

You can even dress up with Midsommar-style socks, like these.

Most people today outside of Sweden aren’t familiar with the magic of the traditional day, but they’re still welcome to come and try their hand at the festivities if they ever choose to visit. 

Scandification: Discovering Scandinavia.

Now read these:
Getting a taste for surströmming
Welcome to the Swedish crayfish party
The meaning of Lagom in Sweden
Enjoying a Swedish Fika moment
The history of Swedish fish sweets

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