Imagine that you’ve spent a long, cold winter with days as short as 5 hours. Now imagine the countryside bursting with bloom and the sun in the sky for over 18 hours, setting after ten o’clock. Is it any wonder that all of Sweden celebrates the longest day of the year?
And they really do celebrate! It’s the holiday second only to Christmas, with every man, woman and child joining in – donning their native costumes, putting flowers in their hair and eating, drinking and dancing all night long.
It wouldn’t be a Midsummer celebration without a maypole – or more accurately, a midsummer pole – with two large loops at the top. They are erected everywhere on Midsummer’s Day, decorated with birch leaves and flowers in blue, yellow and white. Some believe it’s a fertility symbol, but others say it’s a Norse tradition representing the axis that connects the underworld, the earth and the heavens.
Later that evening, young and old will hop around the pole singing ‘Små grodorna,’ The Small Frogs — “The small frogs, the small frogs, are funny to look at. No tails, no tails, they have no tails. No ears, no ears, they have no ears.”
After the dancing and the singing, young girls on the way home take a moment to gather seven (in some regions, nine) different wildflowers – garden flowers don’t count – to put under their pillows and so dream about the man they will marry. Older girls do well to keep in mind the Swedish proverb, “Midsummer night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking.”
Want to learn more? Check out this post from visitsweden.com.