Midsummer in Sweden is so much fun for friends and foodies – and now you can take part in the UK too. I’m a Swede living in London, so I’d like to tell you why you should join in and how.
The Midsummer festivities always fall on a Friday, although thousands will be celebrating tomorrow instead. We gather around 1 o’clock – usually with the same bunch of friends every year (tradition is very important) – and kick things off with a long lunch.
The meal is actually pretty similar to Christmas. Think lots of herring, salmon and potatoes. The difference is that, this time of year, you’re sitting down with your buddies rather than your family. The food is always delicious, and everyone contributes something.
At about 3 it’s time for the raising of the maypole in your local square or village. In Sweden we decorate the maypole with flowers and leaves rather than ribbons, and once we’ve raised it we play games and dance. As you can guess, the kids love this part of the day. I particularly remember the ‘little frog’ dance. You can probably imagine for yourself what that looks like!
Then it’s back for more feasting. Sometimes it’s a barbecue, sometimes it’s more seafood. Now is also the time for schnapps: we take it in turns to sing traditional songs and drink a schnapps, and everyone follows. It’s good to have a repertoire – you could always substitute something different if you don’t have a back-catalogue of traditional Swedish songs.
Finally, there’s one last tradition, although I’m not sure how practical it is nowadays. You have to climb seven fences and cross seven fields, picking a flower from each. Then you sleep with the posy under your pillow and dream of the one you’ll marry. To be honest, I only bothered with this tradition once…
Essentially, the day is the perfect excuse to eat lots of food and be silly with your favourite people. Sound like fun? If you want to host your own Midsummer meal, check out all the delicious offers in our Swedish Shop.
You can also head to a party near you, like the one being held by LondonSwedes.