Midsummer traditions in Sweden

We are going away over the night, since it is Midsummer today and in Sweden we have lots of special things to do today. So I serve you with a text about midsummer traditions (since I know lots of you will want to know!) and some Swedish summer photos from Kyrkstugan taken this past week.

Midsummer Eve – this year 2006 June 23 – is probably the most popular festival day in Sweden, together with Christmas. Midsummer is an old pagan celebration, dating back to the Viking Era. It was a fertility rite originally, where the May pole was a phallic symbol, “impregnating” Mother nature. It was hoped that this would help to give a good harvest in the autumn.
The customs around Midsummer are many and very old. The May pole is still risen in all Sweden and people are playing old song and dancing games around it at nearly every village.

Nowadays Midsummer is a national holiday. Family and friends meet, eat herring and fresh potatoes and drink schnapps and beer.
The actual day of the celebration is also the longest day of the year (summer solstice), signifying that summer has reached the half-way point.

In modern times, Midsummer Day is celebrated on the Saturday between June 20 – 26.
This year – 2006 – it is celebrated June 24
A new rule in Church of Sweden says that we celebrate St John’s Day at the Sunday after Midsummer Day. The correct date of St John’s day is June 24.

The Midsummer night is the night of the great and the hidden powers. Everything is filled with power: the dew, the flowers, the twigs of the trees, the water in the springs. Dew can heal sickness, the leaven gets better with drops of the dew of Midsummer night. Leaves can be used as dressing bandage and you can take away pain if you have some night leaves from the birches in your bath.

Hägg i skogen

In folklore there are many ideas about the Midsummer Night. In earlier time people assembled around the springs to drink “marrow into the bones”. They did not drink just water….
A wreath or a bouquet with seven or nine (the traditions vary) is full of power. But you must pick the flowers all alone and in total silence. One flower from the churchyard increases the power even more. The ready bound wreath you may hang in the ceiling and let it remain there until it is time for the Christmas straw wreath. Your house will stay happy and healthy. A pair of young birches around the porch make happiness into the house, a twig of birch in the cornfield gives better harvest nine flowers image made by me The bouquet of flowers under your pillow make you dream of your future husband, good if you can pick them at a crossroad from the roadbanks of three different roads… [from ugglemor]

Pictures from my midsummer this year will of course have to come later, if any.

But some summer pictures that I wanted to show you are below:

On going project of wrist warmers in left over baby yarn, inspired from the book Dikt i maskor.

A shelf I made of drift wood from the ocean, that I hung at Kyrkstugan for my teddies to sit on. It turned out really well.

At Kyrkstugan you can have coffee at the syrénberså (lilac bower) if you like two. I don’t know if growing a lilac in a ring and putting a table in the middle is typically Swedish? But it’s a very calm place to sit on hot days. You get lovely smell and nice shadow! My parents have one in their garden, but we don’t use it to often since mom and I always wants to enjoy the sun when it is out!

These birds are called kaja (corvus monedula in latin, jackdaw in English). They were screaming a lot from the roof when this little fellow came around to say hi:

Since we bought a cat in April I see other cats (and cat related stuff) everywhere!

Gaveln of Kyrkstugan (gable of the house). Summer, summer, midsummer!

Happy midsummer to you all!

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12 Responses to Midsummer traditions in Sweden

  1. Lina says:

    Vad mycket du l?r oss om svenska traditioner :)
    Men var inte den l?ngsta dagen ig?r? Jag var iallafall ute hela natten d?. Svenska sommarn?tter ?r det finaste som finns. Glad midsommar!

  2. Cia says:

    precis en s?dan syre?n bers? hade min mormor. d?r drack vi saft och nybakade bullar och d?r inne hade vi v?r lekstuga. i dag finns den tyv?rr inte kvar.

  3. Brayergirl says:

    Hi Hanna, I love your description of the Swedish Mid-Summer festivities. I have a few Swedish friends but this is the best description of the occasion that I have heard/read.

    I also love your photos! What camera do you use? They are so crisp and clear….

  4. amy says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share with us. BTW I really love your drift wood shelf, so lovely.

  5. Norah's says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful and interesting history of midsummer. A great celebration!

  6. Anne says:

    Thanks for the lovely pictures, and for sharing some of the midsummer traditions with us…..the sad thing is…nights are drawing in again towards winter but then on 21st december when it is dark and midwinter, I can be seen saying hey the days are getting longer. Happy midsummer, hope the sun shines for a long long time

  7. Don says:

    Thanks for a nice blog.

  8. Wow, how WONDERFUL that you celebrate Midsummer that way!!! Amazing! I would love it if it were a more prominent celebration here in the states….i fear it is too “pagan” for many Americans! LOL!
    I wish i could wish myself there to drink ?marrow into the bones? and dance all day….
    i think i will make a flower wreath! :)

  9. Ann says:

    I always love seeing the pictures of the landscape and nature that you experience. Thank you so much for sharing them! Maybe one day I will get to travel to Sweden and see some of your beautiful land for myself!

  10. Julie says:

    Really lovely nature pictures!!

  11. Bea says:

    Thanks for the interesting facts about midsummer! I had so looked forward to come to Sweden this year, but with the pregnancy and the fact that we?ll need most of my husband?s vacation time that?s still left for the weeks after giving birth, we just couldn?t make it. Now, we are planning to go next year. And – if possible – I would like to celebrate midsummer, too! That would be so great! Thanks for giving a little taste of it with your beautiful pictures!

  12. tinker says:

    This was beautiful! Especially the lilac bower – I love lilacs. Ours bloom in early spring here. Thank you for sharing all the interesting details of Midsummer’s Eve in your country – I wish we still danced arond Maypoles here (they did when I was little) and May baskets, too. It’s such a lovely way to welcome in summer. Hope your Midsummer’s Eve was happy!

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