Midsummer is the official start of the Swedish summer holidays, and for months, I was hearing about all the wonderful traditions that mark this holiday. Imagine my delight when one of my wonderful coworkers invited me and another coworker up to her stuga (cottage/summer house) to celebrate a traditional Swedish midsummer with her family.
The trip was off to a decidedly rough start, as Linnea and I were stranded 6 hours on Thursday evening in the central train station with the entire population of Stockholm. We finally got word that that our train was completely canceled, so we dragged our exhausted (and whiskey-filled) selves back to our respective homes to try our luck again on Friday. We had much better luck, and with only minor delays, we found ourself in Ljusne, a quaint village south of Söderhamn. Our wonderful hosts had the sauna warm and the beers cold for our arrival, starting one of the best weekends on record. This was our wonderful home for the weekend! Complete with twin earth cellars!
Maypole and dancing
The centre of a midsummer celebration is the maypole. While there is some debate as to if the maypole does have pagan roots or if it is a more recent invention, I choose to believe the story that the maypole represents a penis which impregnates the earth to yield all of the life. You will note this spectacularly decorated pole, complete with a pair of festive testicles…There were scattered showers throughout the weekend, so we took advantage of a window of sunshine to dance around the pole, leaping like frogs, and singing songs. As you can imagine, it was perfect. Then we watched mosquitos party until they die.
Food and drinks
Like any good holiday, there was a range of delicious food and drink to be had! Lots of smoked and salty fish – herring, salmon, and more, with a pot of new potatoes, a few bottles of schnaps, and a strawberry meringue dessert.
7 flowers for true love dreams
One of the other midsummer traditions is to pick 7 different flowers, which apparently if placed under your pillow will allow you to dream of your true love. Alternately, the quantity of salty fish will apparently beacon dreams of your true love bringing you a glass of water. Dreamy. We had to go on a flower hike:
We also saw other pretty things. In between the eating, drinking, and dancing, we had a pile of lego moments and other fun times! These two munchings were a delight.
Thanks again to our warm and wonderful hosts! I am a total convert to the midsummer way of life. I can’t imagine a better way to welcome summer!