Summer solstice – Midsummer celebrations

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 | Green Wonders, Your Guide To Nordic Nature

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

Midnight sun in Östersund. image by Sara Borgström


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