Friday, June 24, 2011

Swedish Midsummer

One of my favourite holidays midsummer and today is Midsummer's Eve. The sun will set at 10.16 PM where I live and rise at 04.05 AM but Sweden is a long country and up north the sun never sets at this time of year, it just touches the horizon and rises again. On this coordinate though, most part of the night isn't dark, unless it's very cloudy.

Midsummer celebrations were meant to welcome the summer and fertility in agrarian times. In the early 16th century Swedes made their own version of German traditions by decorating houses and farm tools with foliage and raised tall, leafy maypoles to dance around. A crown of leafs and flowers decorate the heads of happy celebrating people. In the beginning mostly youngsters took part of the celebrations and indistrial communities, where mill employees were munching away on a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps. In the 20th century it developed into the most Swedish of all traditional festivities.

Where I live, the most important symbols of Midsummer are the decorated pole (and the dancing around it), the flower crowns and of course the food feast that almost always consists of pickled herring, new potatoes with cream and chive which is all swollowed down with schnapps. On Midsummer Night, the local tradition says that any girl who climbs seven fences under silence, picking a different flower in between each and then put the small bouqet under your pillow - then she will dream of her future husband. I tried it each year when I was a kid, but I have to admit that I never dreamt of Khalid (or anyone else for that matter, except once when I dreamt of my uncle, which was quite horrifying for a young girl!). Perhaps I did something wrong or simply couldn't help but to giggle with my fellow love-searching young neighbors while we should have stayed completely silence!

Anyways, me, dad and Oskar went for the traditional celebrations in Mariebergsparken in Kinna, that is the native district's park. The park was originally a bushy forest- and meadow ground as well as an old spot for digging gravel that all belonged to the farm Marieberg, whose manor house still stands. When the ground was bought by the native district's association, it was turned into a park and a couple of other old cottages have been bought and brought to the park. It's a popular and beautiful recreation area and weddings and other celebrations are often held in the park lodge. It was great seeing colourful people folk costumes and flower crowns doing "the frog dance" around the pole while enjoying a small picnic in the green grass! Afterwards we munched on pickled herring with trimmings with the rest of the extended family. No schnapps for me though, but I enjoyed the fresh strawberries with cream and sugar even more!

I'll post a video of the famous "Små grodorna", complete with dance and song (translated and all!) in my next post. Stay tuned!

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