Easter, Carnival, Pentecost, Chistmas - wherever you look, all of our former honestly Pagan festivities have been compromised by Chistendom. And although the church still struggles to explain what an egg-laying rabbit has got to do with the ressurection of Christ, it has managed to successfully re-brand all holy days of former competitors to its own liking. Only in a small country in the north of Europe a single bastion of family-friendly paganism still exists.
If you entered Stockholm around the 21st of June, you might well think it is a ghost town. Shops are mostly closed, and you will only encounter the lonely or over-worked staggering homewards along with the proverbial tumbleweed. What has happened? A Pandemia? Free booze cruises to Germany? Zombie Apocalypse? No, it's
Midsommar in Sweden
|A typical Swedish country house|
Simply known as summer solstice elsewhere, the longest period of daylight in the year is a major festivity notoriously gloomy Sweden. According to some people even bigger than Christmas, and understandably so: midsommar is warm, outside and a fertility festival. You can imagine what that means. And yes, all they say about Swedes is true.
But first things first. Midsommar is traditionally celebrated on the countryside, with friends and family. If you yourself do not own a countryside house, one of your friends will surely do and take you along. The actual celebration consists of people both young and old dancing around a giant phallic symbol that is thought to be impregnating the earth and bring a good harvest. Before you think of Japanese penis festivals, be told that Swedes are more classy and have decorated their phallus with fresh greenery and it thusly looks a lot less conspicuous than one would assume.
|The Midsommar Pole|
There are several songs that are traditionally danced to, but one of the most popular ones is "Små grodorna", which roughly goes: "Little frogs are funny to look at, they got no ears, they got no tails...croak-ak-ak, croak-ak-ak." Dancers are required to make the appropriate movements, using their hands to imitate ears and tails and frog-hop to the croaking. Although Swedish adults claim they only do that for the children, the barely disguised enjoyment on their faces gives away their true sentiments.
|A Midsommar wreath (Krans)|
A lot of Midsommar traditions involve flowers and shrubbery, such as making wreaths or collecting seven kinds of flower to put under your pillow to dream of your future husband. More memorable, at least from a purely physical perspective, are the food and drink rituals. And drink they do! Shots of liquor are raised at various intervals along the generous amounts of Swedish delicacies that pile up on the table. Unsuspecting foreigners have been known to be dead drunk before dinner even starts. Don't try to sing along to any of the drinking rhymes, you'll sound even drunker in Swedish than in your own language.
|One of the many Snaps shots that await you. Skål!|
Being the most Swedish of all celebrations (it was even proposed to be the national day), Midsommar food consists of everything traditionally Swedish (unless you ask Danes): Kötbullar (Meatballs), herring (pickled or in cream sauce), new potatoes, salmon and rye bread are usually part of the menu. The year's first strawberries are served as a dessert.
|A selection of Swedish (and not-so-Swedish) foods|
Finally, Midsommar is a fertility festival. While that does not necessarily mean you need to make kids, the procreational pressure seems to translate at least into an increased amorous activity amongst the Swedes - never have I seen so many fresh couples in one place. As March (Midsommar + 9 months) still has the highest birth rate throughout the Swedish year, I'm lead to the assumption that these relationships are not purely platonic however...
All pictures are mine to use and copy, so please don't take them without permission (has happened).