Welcome to the Midsommar Fest! When you make a worldtrip, you participate in every local festival of course ! And Midsommar is the most important holiday, after Christmas, in Sweden. In this blog we’ll explain all the rituals involved with this feast!
This festivity originates from the time of the Vikings, when people thought the longest summerday gave magical powers. So they picked plants and herbs at Midsummernight and used them for healing. And they danced around bonfires to protect themselves from dark and evil powers that might be released after the moment the number of sunhours started to drop.
From the Middle Ages, the Swedish started to dance around a pole which they decorated with green plants and flowers. They called it ‘maja’, that’s why the pole is known as ‘May-tree’.
Midsummernight was a time of magic and mystery, so young woman had to pick 7 different flowers and put them under their pillow. They might dream about their future husband. Wearing the flower wreath, is an old symbol of fertility.
Drinking songsEating and drinking is important at any party, also at Midsommar. A few dishes are standard at this fest: fresh potatoes, hering, aquavit (alcohol 44%) and strawberries. Also salmon and Swedish meatballs (yes, Ikea style) are on the menu.
Essential part during drinking is singing traditional songs. The most popular is ‘Helan går’.The title means: ‘the whole goes down’ which refers to the first drink in the series of drinks, a special snaps. If you don’t drink that first one, you cannot have a second one. The Swedish have so many drinking songs, more than 12.000. So when you sing one each day, it would take you 32 years to finish the last one .
We spoke with 2 families at the harbour (see the pictures) who had the traditional lunch close to our catamaran and we heard them sing the songs. They explained the rituals to us. It always amazes me how proudly people talk about their country and habits. And also with pride wave the flags, we see them a lot in harbours and at villages. In the Netherlands we talk less open about country values.
Games for the familyDifferent games are played with families in the open air during Midsommar. We watched a game being played in a garden, which we never heard of. Kubb is a game with 10 small wooden sticks (kubbs) and the goals is to knock down one big wooden block (the king). Also croquet and sack races are popular.
It was nice to experience the Midsommar Fest and see the Swedish get in party mode, because they are usually introvert and quiet!