Wondering what all the fuss is about? Where all the Stockholmers have gone? Or maybe you’re just looking for a place to celebrate Midsummer in the city?
Swedish Midsummer is easily the most celebrated holiday in the country rivaled only by Christmas. Nature is in full bloom, love is in the air and twilight replaces most of the dark hours. It’s a time when the city becomes eerily quiet as people head to the archipelago or the country to gather around the May pole with family and friends. Here’s a brief description of Midsommar (pronounced with a silent d) and where in Stockholm you can join in the festivities.
Originally, the Vikings celebrated Midsummer as a fertility rite. The May pole was a phallic symbol, which was planted into the earth to symbolically fertilize Mother Nature in hopes of a bountiful harvest later in the year. The celebration marked the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Today, the holiday always takes place on a Friday and usually marks the beginning of a 5 week summer holiday for most Swedes.
A typical Midsummer feast consists of a variety of sill (pickled herring), boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, sour cream, red onions and crisp bread. Often followed by a grilled dish and a cheese pie. Janssons Frestelse (or Jansson’s Temptation) is another favourite – just like at Christmas.
For dessert Swedes usually serve up the first strawberries of summer with cream. Or make a cake – with cream and strawberries. But no Midsummer spread would be complete without a bottomless glass of spiced schnapps, with which traditional “snapsvisor” (folk drinking songs) are sung upon refills. If you only learn – and take part in – one – this should be it!
Houses are decorated with birch wreaths and flower garlands and women and girls often wear wreaths in their hair. Swedes then dance around the decorated “Majstång” (May pole) while singing traditional folk songs and often times dressing up in national costumes. But don’t worry – this won’t be required of you – unless you want to.
Midsummer has long been considered a magical night; one of good fortune and future telling. Traditionally on this day single women and girls pick a bouquet of seven different wild flowers, (the tradition actually also requires climbing over seven fences in complete silence – but people have gotten lazy) and place the blooms under their pillow as they sleep in hopes that their future husband will visit their dreams….
Midsummer Gatherings in Stockholm
Most restaurants and stores are closed on Midsummer, but for those of you in town for the holiday there are still some places that will be full of people. Here’s a few examples of the Midsummer fests in Stockholm:
Celebrations all weekend with extra festivities on Midsummer Eve. The program includes dancing around the May pole, Swedish folk dances, games, and music.
Where: Skansen Open Air Museum, Djurgården
When: Friday 10am to 9.30pm, Saturday 11am to 11pm, Sunday 11am-to 2.45 pm
Price: 150 SEK for adults and 60 for children (includes entrance to Skansen)
Look below for a taster of what you can expect:
Traditional Midsummer celebrations with dancing, games and live traditional Swedish music. Fika will be sold on site, but why not bring a picnic basket of your own?
Where: Vasaparken, T-bana Odenplan
When: Friday between 12 and 3pm.
Appell Folkdance Society arranges a midsummer celebration with dancing games, children’s games, and folk dance performances. Food and drinks will be sold.
Where: Vitabergsparken, Södermalm
When: Friday from midday and onwards
Traditional Midsummer celebrations with Slagsta Gille leading dance around the maypole. The celebrations include singalong, raffles as well as dance and magic performances. The park has both a café and a restaurant.
When: Friday, June 21, 2013
Price: admission 50 SEK for adults, 20 SEK for children under 15 years
For more information on Midsummer celebrations in YOUR part of Stockholm (in Swedish), click here.
Glad Midsommar, everyone!
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