One of the most rewarding parts of travel is when you get to partake in other culture’s traditions that differ from the ones you know from back home. Until preparing for this road trip around Sweden with Volvo I had never heard of Midsummer before. I would soon come to learn it is the 2nd most important holiday for the Swedes after Christmas.
So what is Midsummer?
Around mid June at the time of summer solstice, this celebration kicks off the summer season followed by a five-week annual holiday which is important in a culture with a short summer season. The day begins with the picking of flowers to adorn the maypole, the centerpiece of the celebration where people gather to sing and dance around with traditional songs. Everyone from men and women to boys and girls make flower crowns, and we even saw a few dogs with flower collars! The gatherings of community, friends and family proceed after the morning’s activities to a large banquet lunch traditionally of herring, boiled potatoes with toppings and a good amount of schnapps. Throughout the course of lunch a fun variety of midsummer songs are sung about always ending with a toast and another gulp of the fruity liquor. Toward the end of lunch the songs get quite a bit more racy as the drinking games progress all in good fun.
It was absolutely magical to be immersed into this cultural tradition with our host family Vibs and Robert Sohlberg who made us feel like one of their own and who happen to own the wonderful little down to earth inn on the water, Slussens Pensionat, where we stayed during Midsummer. This hotel is such a fun escape with live music on the water and an organic, sustainable restaurant worth a visit even if you are not staying the night.
Perhaps my favorite tradition for Midsummer is the final of the night. You pick 7 different types of flowers from the garden and place them under your pillow and as legend goes, you will dream of your one true love. Now that is something I would like to bring back home with me.