Sweden - Summer Celebrations2015
By Anastacia Sampson
There are many festivities during the summer season in Sweden. It is especially as the school year ends in early June until the term for the new school year begins at the end of August, that many families can travel to partake in celebrations. Two of the main events in the hotter months are:
•National Day – observed on 6 June, has been a public holiday since 2005. It is also celebrated nationally as Swedish Flag Day. Part of the tradition is the attendance of the royal family at Skansen. As Midsummer is such an important day in Sweden, the day of Midsummer was considered to be appointed the National Day at one point in the history of Sweden.
•Midsummer’s Eve – is celebrated by dancing around a flower decorated tall wooden pole (maypole). As the pole is usually erected at Midsummer it is also referred to as the midsummer pole. Flowers are part of summer and it is only natural that flowers feature so widely at this festivity;flowers are even worn in the hair. Music and traditional colourful national costumes are played and worn among the Swedes. Midsummer Eve is always celebrated on a Friday and tends to begin with picking flowers, which are placed to adorn the maypole. Drinking songs are part of the festivities, this is when Swedes drink and sing along with each other in merriment. Dancing, particularly ring dancing (dancing in a circle and holding hands) is participated in by all ages especially in the evenings.
Dances around the maypole tend to be alternating with a period of dance and intermediate gestures reflecting the words of the song, i.e. if the song is about cleaning then dancers actually imitate cleaning movements during the dance. On the night of midsummer, many girls and young women have a cultural belief that by picking seven different flower species and then placing these flowers under their pillow;they will then dream of their future husband to be. Rituals were often performed at this time of you;one that still prevails is the decorating of homes and barns with greenery (plants).
There is also the legend of the night before Midsummer being a night of love. This a time of the year when Swedes also enjoy hosting weddings and christenings. The day of Midsummer is the most celebrated national day, yet generally the top celebrated day being Christmas.
The joyful celebration of summer is done on a day between 20 to 25 June. Festivities are held outdoors with the public parks and Skansen being among the major site gatherings for Swedes. Lunch tends to mainly focus on pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with the fresh herb of dill. Grilled foods are also popular. Drinks of beer and schnapps (a high alcohol volume drink) are served at lunches and deserts are often of in season strawberries and cream. The origins of this special day are unclear, yet its link with celebrating summer and fertility is accepted. Midsummer Day is a Saturday and public holiday, which allows Swedes to have had a late night the night before.