Each year, the Friday between 19 and 25 of June, Sweden stops for 24h. Streets are quiet and Stockholm only full of tourists. Swedes leave the cities to gather with friends and families to celebrate in tradition the longest day of the year.
Midsummer Eve is one of the most (if not the most) important tradition in Sweden and it’s a fantastic experience to discover the Swedish culture and gastronomy. If you have the opportunity to celebrate it with Swedes, just do it! It’s the time of the year where Swedes loosen up, and you will have lots of fun. Difficult to find a part to join? No worries, in this post I will give you some tips to plan your very own Swedish Midsummer.
Where to celebrate Midsummer
Traditionally Swedes celebrated in the countryside, by the water. Rent a cabin in the archipelago – if you manage to find some free (book 6+ months before)!
If in Stockholm, you can head off to Sofia church’s hill –Sofia kyrka– on Södermalm, or Rålambshovsparken in Kungsholem, one of the few places where you can barbecue and drink in Stockholm.
Swedes set up a long table outside to hope to enjoy a beautiful day but they say weather like to be tricky on Midsummer eve so it’s good to have a plan B for sitting inside.
What to eat and drink on Midsummer eve
Your typical midsummer menu should included: pickel herring, boiled potatoes with sour cream and chives, some kind of barbecued dish (ribs, salmon), strawberries with cream. All of these, you will be able to find in any supermarket.
You should enjoy this day with plenty of cold beer and lots of schnapps. Schnapps are to be enjoy with plenty of drinking songs and for Swedes to provide their guests lyrics, as not everybody knows all of them. But the most famous drinking songs is “Helan går”, and everybody know it – it kind of means drink up your glass :-).
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
To avoid strong disappointment, plan ahead and buy your alcohol in advance: Systembolaget is closed on midsummer Eve and the all midsummer weekend.
Midsummer activities for all
Picking flowers to create crown flower is a tradition for women and girls. I must admit I was not really gifted at this task, but it’s fun to give it a go. (Here is a great tutorial). Playing kubb in the garden (a famous swedish game, close to bowling) is a classic.
There are lots of talk about dancing around the maypole with the famous frog dance but I never got to experience it (let’s face it, it’s not an activity that put you at your advantage…).
At the end of the day, it’s time for proper dancing and partying and to go for a midnight swim!
Glåd midsommar alla!
Warning: consume alcohol with moderation and never drink and drive, it’s quite common to stay over for the night where you are having the midsummer party.
(Credit photo at the top: thenigo.com)