Someone from Scotland, like myself is not familiar with this phenomenon known as “midsommar”. It is a festive occasion, a time to enjoy being with family and friends and you guessed it a time celebrate summer in the middle of summer. What a weird and interesting thought. In Scotland there is no event to celebrate summer, there is only complaining about the weather when it is not sunny and turning into lobsters when it is. But is it really such a surprise that there is a midsommar celebration in a country like Sweden, which has an abundance of days in the calendar year to celebrate the existence of particular cakes?! What you do on midsommar can be different for different people and I shall share the experience of my first one with you.
I am lucky…I know. I have found an incredible and amazing girlfriend who is a Stockholmer and who’s family has a home on the island of Aspö which is south of Nynäshamn (I know, I just hit the jackpot). So I was able to spend my midsommar on this beautiful island that is full of nature, beaches, cliffs and surrounded by the ocean. Usually there are not many people on the island (my kinda island), but there were many families enjoying being together and enduring midsommar traditions. This was lovely to see, and everyone seemed to be joyful and happy.
What did we do?
We arrived on the Friday, the day of midsommar, and the evening started with some fun outdoor challenges! We were split into two teams, and competed against each other in a series of activities, including: chip golf-trying to chip a practice golf ball into a bucket, boules, throwing a wellington boot from behind yourself into an aiming area (yes kind of weird and in fact terribly difficult), throwing a ball into a bucket and a music trivia quiz which involved listening to songs and guessing title and the artist (which my girlfriend was incredibly and annoyingly good at). I got some right on the music quiz e.g. Let’s Groove by Earth Wind and Fire, but many of the songs were Swedish and I had no clue what they were, I am just going to have to listen to more of these…
This was followed by some delicious Swedish food and barbecued meat (there was barbecued meat or fish available every day…how pleasant). We enjoyed some sill, köttbullar, lax, caviar, potatis, salat, korv and of course some schnapps. The schnapps shots were drank after a Swedish song was sung (which I hummed along to). The possibility of doing some traditional Swedish dances were mentioned but not carried out, perhaps everyone was slightly tired and did not have the energy for this, however one day I would love to try this out!! In Scotland we are known for our cèilidh’s so I may be able to jiggle a little.
The rest of the weekend included running, swimming, swimruns, sauna times, more delicious food and an epic football match!
The football match!
Every year it is a tradition to play a football match on the island with whoever may be there on midsommar, this was music to my ears as I have played this sport for many years and nowadays enjoy it from time to time. It was a humid and wet afternoon for the game, which lead to a lot of sweating and plenty of water consumption. The players were adults and kids, it was a friendly match but with an aspect of competitiveness. I told myself not to be too competitive and to not try too hard, but just enough so we won. We won 5-3 in a great battle of play. I am extremely proud of the way we played, and I think it was some great passing football! I was also impressed with my girlfriends performance after I persuaded her to play (she could be a great defender!). I of course had to score one goal at least and did so in the way that I wanted, by going on a long run and taking on the goalkeeper.
Embracing the Swedish language
It is a challenge for me to learn this unique language, but I want to try and get better at speaking and it was a pleasure to listen to everyone talking in Swedish. I realise now how grateful I am for this, despite there being many moments were I did not understand what was being said and I couldn’t enter the conversation, but this is part of the learning process, by listening to sounds and the way words are pronounced. I think I have take taken away a lot of learning from this experience, even if it is subconscious and I wish to push myself to get better at the language. It is important not to shy away (which I can be guilty of) from these experiences and putting yourself in uncomfortable and unfamiliar settings which I think can help one improve in a language.
This version of midsommar was amazing and spent with fabulous company as well as stunning nature and scenic views. To those foreigners out there who also want to enjoy a Swedish midsommar, it is great of course if you know a Swede or two to celebrate it with and you can endure some typical Swedish traditions!! If not I know of some foreign friends who enjoyed a lovely festive midsommar together and carried out some Swedish traditions themselves!! There can also be public festivities for midsommar in Sweden e.g. in Skansen and also Dalarna is a great place for a midsommar occasion! Remember it is about spending time with the ones whom you care about and celebrating this good weather that we can have in the summer before it turns god awful again…the cycle goes on.
I shall be in Stockholm for the summer and am more than happy to answer any questions or have a chat about life here and Karolinska Institutet with anyone! Contact me on one of these emails: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Glad midsommar till alla!!
I am from Scotland and have come to Stockholm to study Nutrition Science MSc at Karolinska. I am a blogger for this course and am interested in many areas of Nutrition including ways to reduce childhood obesity and improve adolescent mental health. I love to travel, meet new people, play sport, keep healthy, watch films and listen to jazz music. I also enjoy trying food from around the World and am always searching for the best food out there!