Probably the most celebrated and famous event in Sweden, Midsommar! Something you can’t miss if you decide to spend the summer break in Sweden. The longest day this year fell on the 23rd of June and it was truly a fest! In this blog, I am sharing some of the traditions behind Midsummer and my experience!
The night of traditions, mystery, and magic!
The traditions around Midsummer heavily involve dances, songs, and magic. People dance around the famous Midsummer Pole and sing songs alongside bonfires. During Midsummer drinking songs are very popular. One of the most notorious is probably “Helan går”. This roughly translates into “the whole goes (down)” meaning the first drink in a sequence of “snaps”. The Museum of Spirits in Stockholm counted more than 12.000 drinking songs and new ones are consistently composed.
However, it is much more than that! In folklore, it is believed plants acquire mysterious healing powers and predict the future! Traditional belief declares that women could pick seven various kinds of flowers and place them under the pillow to dream of their future husbands. However, they must be selected in silence or else the magic is broken. Regardless of gender and norms, maybe take a chance, and who knows it might work.
There are numerous other beliefs present during Midsommar. For instance, walking barefoot on Midsummer night turned to dawn will help you stay healthy, or wearing the famous wreath of flowers stands for rebirth and fertility.
The food! From fresh potatoes to strawberries
What is the biggest holiday in the country without food? Midsummer obviously also has that covered. The first new potatoes ‘färskpotatis’ of the year were usually harvested just around Midsommar. Today they are usually eaten with dill and pickled hearing, gravlax (salmon cured with salt and sugar), or Swedish meatballs. The pickled herring is a must! But also something to get used to.
Another traditional food is called “brannvinsbord”. It is similar to apperetivo or brunch board which is served as a starter with bread, cheese, butter, salmon, sausages, dried meat, anchovy, or pickled herring. Alongside the food usually three kinds of Aqauvit are served which is in Swedish “brännvin”. If you visit the Nordic Museum in Stockholm you can see an exhibition with several traditional tables of the “brannvinsbord”.
One last summer food we cannot forget for midsummer is strawberries. It is the right season and the perfect refreshing snack for anyone who wants to stay up late and dance around the poles.
You have plenty of time in the night when the sun hardly goes down. So after the delicious food you can enjoy some of the games. One of the most popular outdoor summer games you might have seen is “Kubb”. The goal is to knock down ten small wooden blocks “kubb” and one large wooden block (the king) by throwing wooden sticks. It might sound a little simple but trust me it’s a lot of fun and anyone can participate!
If you want to experience how it feels like when a whole country is in a festive mood, I highly recommend you joining the Midsummer celebreations (don’t let the movie scare you)!
I hope this insight convinced you to stay a couple more days in Sweden during the summer and join the fest! If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me via email or by commenting down below!
I am Tade. I am Nigerian/German and the blogger for the Master’s Programme in Nutrition Science. Before KI, I was studying in the Netherlands. My whole life I was interested in food and sports, and that is why I decided to study nutrition. When I learned about KIs group-focused teaching and the international environment I knew where I wanted to go. When I am not exploring or trying different foods I am playing basketball in Solna. If you are ever up for the challenge, you know where to find me!