Friday, June 22, 2012

What is Swedish Midsummer?

I can't have a culture blog without writing about what happens today - all over Sweden. Today is Midsummer where the typical Swede eat new potatoes*, pickled herring and strawberries. Today we also drink a lot of alcohol, usually snaps - which is strong shots taken during the course of dinner. The alcohol flow all day, most commonly beer.

We also put a Midsummer pole**, in the shape of a phallic symbol, in the ground and dance around it to traditional music, for example Little frogs where you imitate frogs. It's also common to bind a wreath of flowers to wear.

People dancing around a Midsummer's pole in Sweden.
From wikipedia

Midsummer was to begin with a pagan fertility festival. It has during the years and centuries kept its pagan customs, even though the church has tried to take over the holiday with St. John's day***, which lies close to Midsummer. For example: it's said that the magic is strong during Midsummer's night so if you pick 7 different kinds of flowers and put them under your pillow - you will dream about your future spouse.

No one connects Midsummer to any religion today, it's just a traditional holiday which all can celebrate from kids to grandparents. It's a day of eating and having fun with family and friends.

* immature potatoes harvested during spring and summer.
** the same as Maypole.
*** St. John's day isn't really celebrated in Sweden, maybe by the church.

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