Wondering what all the fuss is about? And where all the Stockholmers have gone? Or maybe you’re just looking for a place to celebrate Midsummer in the city?
Swedish Midsummer is easily the most celebrated holiday in the country, rivalled only by Christmas. Nature is in full bloom, love is in the air and twilight replaces most of the dark hours. It’s a time when the city becomes eerily quiet as people head to the archipelago or the country to gather around the maypole with family and friends. Here’s a brief description of Midsommar (pronounced with a short i and a silent d) and where in Stockholm you can join in the festivities.
Originally, the Vikings celebrated Midsummer as a fertility rite. The maypole was a phallic symbol, which was planted into the earth to symbolically fertilize Mother Nature in hopes of a bountiful harvest later in the year. The celebration marked the Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year and the shortest night. Today, the holiday always takes place on a Friday and usually marks the beginning of the summer holiday for most Swedes.
A typical Midsummer feast consists of a variety of sill (pickled herring), boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, sour cream, red onions and crisp bread. Often followed by a grilled dish and a cheese pie. Janssons Frestelse (or Jansson’s Temptation) is another favourite – just like at Christmas.
For dessert Swedes usually serve up the first strawberries of summer with cream. Or make a cake – with cream and strawberries. But no Midsummer spread would be complete without a bottomless glass of spiced schnapps, with which traditional “snapsvisor” (folk drinking songs) are sung upon refills. If you only learn – and take part in – one – this should be it!
Houses are decorated with birch wreaths and flower garlands and women and girls often wear wreaths in their hair. Swedes then dance around the decorated “Majstång” (maypole) while singing traditional folk songs and often times dressing up in national costumes. But don’t worry – this won’t be required of you – unless you want to.
If you are looking to familiarise yourself with typical Swedish summer music that you’ll find on most Swedish Midsummer playlists, have a listen to these 10 tunes hand-picked for you:
Midsummer Gatherings in Stockholm
Many restaurants and most stores are closed on Midsummer, but for those of you in town for the holiday there are still some places that will be full of people. Here’s a few examples of the Midsummer fests in Stockholm:
Celebrations all weekend with extra festivities on Midsummer Eve. The program includes dancing around the maypole, Swedish folk dances, games, and music.
Where: Skansen Open Air Museum, Djurgården
When: The maypole is raised on Friday June 24 at 2pm, followed by folk dances. Midsummer-themed activities throughout the weekend. More details.
Damage: 180 SEK for adults and 60 for children (includes entrance to Skansen)
Look below for a taster of what you can expect:
Traditional Midsummer celebrations with dancing, games and fun for the kids. Fika, hot dog and popcorn will be sold on site, but why not bring a picnic basket of your own?
Where: Akalla By, T-bana Akalla
When: Friday, June 24, 2016, between 11am and 4pm. The maypole is raised at noon.
The place to be at Södermalm if you are in the city. Appell Folkdance Society arranges a midsummer celebration with dancing games, children’s games, and folk dance performances. Food and drinks will be sold.
Where: Vintervikens trädgård, Stockholm
When: Friday, June 24, 2016. The pole is dressed in flowers at 1pm and the dancing goes on until 3pm
Traditional Midsummer celebrations with Slagsta Gille leading dance around the maypole. The celebrations include singalong, raffles as well as dance and singing performances. The park has both a café and a restaurant.
Where: Hågelbyparken, Botkyrka
When: Friday, June 24, 2016, 10.30am to 4pm. Program details.
Damage: admission 60 SEK for adults, 30 SEK for children between 2 and 15 years of age.
A less traditional Midsummer is what Södra Teatern promises for all. You can expect to see Miss Inga and Helga as well as several popular DJs.
Where: Södra Teatern, Mosebacketerrassen
When: Friday, June 24, 2016. The pole is raised at 2pm, activities from noon onwards, restaurants and clubs open till late. More details.
Damage: Free entrance
For more information on Midsummer celebrations in YOUR part of Stockholm (in Swedish), click here.
Glad Midsommar, everyone!
Featured Image: Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se