It’s the Friday before Midsummer and nature has burst into it’s glorious green fullness.
It’s tradition for the locals here to go ‘all in’ on Midsummer’s Eve. Organizing a fest of food and great friends is the only requirement, inclusive of drinking lots of alcohol and singing loudly! It’s a bigger deal than Christmas!
We gathered at 12 p.m. around the patio table, decked out in Sweden’s colors of blue, yellow and white. We begin our lunch of fresh boiled potatoes, sour cream and fresh green onions. The tangy, traditional entree’ of sill is pickled herring that has been marinated in a special vinegar with dill, mustard or even chili! Pickled red onions are also welcomed along with the required nubbe.
The nubbe needs some attention here: this Swedish liquor is called an ‘aquavit’ or ‘brännvin’ (brandy). The liquor stores here sell them in a varied 10 pk. Strong stuff! You can see in the above photo that some people make their own versions.
Drinking nubbe also requires singing and reciting limerick type lyrics: of days gone by or an old man celebrating to his Swedish heart’s content. The larger the group, the more fun!
After lunch, large groups of families and friends usually gather in smaller neighborhood parks to raise the maypole. It symbolizes fertility and is usually decorated with green plants and wildflowers. After a group raises the pole, the dancing commences.
Små grådorna is the most popular dance, where everyone imitates the baby frogs that burst into life every spring. To most Swedes, is is tradition, but it does look a bit ridiculous (and fun!).
After the dancing, we go back to the table in the sun and have the always delicious strawberry cake. Strawberries grow in abundance here and they are delicious when fresh. Yes, my friend Linda gets all the credit for her homemade cake!
Usually the drinking continues, followed by a chat around the grill while the meat sizzles. The celebration is at it’s best with a group of close friends or family, so the focus is on good company and celebrating the abundance life has to offer!
Staying up late, while drinking and dancing with friends is the best, while waiting for the sun to finally rest for the night. We reconvene in the late morning for a breakfast in the sun – as this year gave us the best weather anyone could dream of in magical Sweden!
Here is my favorite youtube video describing the most amazing event: