Archive for June, 2011

Summer solstice – Midsummer celebrations

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 | Green Wonders, Your Guide To Nordic Nature | No Comments

Today – June 21st we have our longest day of the year. North of the polar circle the sun never sets – the midnight sun. This is because the Earth axial is tilted so that the northern hemisphere is closest to the sun. The opposite situation is occurring December 21st when we experience the longest night or even polar night. The bittersweet of Midsummer is that it is the time of the year when the days are starting to become shorter again.

The longest day of the year and especially the light warm night was thought of as the most magical of the year and was in pre-Christian times devoted to the gods of fertility. Still the Midsummer’s Eve that we celebrate this Friday is the most important holiday in Sweden. The summer is here and it is time to enjoy the gifts from nature. At a traditional Midsummer table you’ll find pickled herring, sourcream and chive, newly harvested potatoes (not the ones stored during winter) and locally produced strawberries. An important part is also the “snaps” and drinking songs. Besides food the Midsummer celebration includes creating and dancing around a Maypole. This maypole is featured as a cross with two rings hanging. It is covered by fresh branches from birch and lots of herbs collected in the morning. The maypole is raised and then there is traditional ringdances around it. Women and children also sometimes wear wreaths of herbs. Before going to bed all young girls should pick 7 (or 9 in some regions) flowers and cross 7 fences while remaining completely silent, and then put the flowers under their pillows to dream about their future husband. Happy Midsummer!

More about Midsummer at sweden.se

Midnight sun in Östersund. image by Sara Borgström

 

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How are you celebrating World Environment Day?

Each day of the year is devoted to something special and the on 5th June it is World Environment Day initiated by UNEP. This year 2011 is the International Year of Forests and hence our forests and all the benefits they provide us with are in focus for the celebration. The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Naturskyddsföreningen) uses the long, bright summer night between 5-6 June to celebrate nature with lots of activities. Check out here (pdf in Swe).
If you are occupied with other things – celebrate by just noticing a tree close to where you live and work, minimize your print outs that particular day or contemplate how trees and forests support your life.

UNEP World Environment Day
2011 International Year for Forests

An old oak tree at the Stockholm Royal City Park

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The Stockholm Memorandum

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 | Environment Update | No Comments

In mid May brilliant people met in Stockholm during the 3rd Nobel Laureate Symposium on Global Sustainability. More than twenty Nobel Laureates, a number of leading policy makers and some of the world’s most renowned thinkers and experts on global sustainability concluded that we have entered a new era – the Anthropocene. Humanity is completely dominating the planet and pressing its ultimate boundaries. The Stockholm Memorandum is a new vision for global sustainability and also include means of how to achieve it. It has been handed to the UN High Level Panel on global sustainability that is arranging the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro (Rio +20).

The Stockholm Memorandum (pdf)
The Symposium website
The Economist on “The Anthropocene”
The concept “Planetary boundaries”

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