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Article: Midsummer in Sweden

Midsummer in Sweden

Midsummer in Sweden

Dancing around a pole with flowers in your hair, eating pickled herring, potatoes and summer berries all washed down with aquavit, Midsummer is a sign of good things to come. Here’s our guide to celebrating Midsommar in Sweden…

What’s it all about?

In Sweden, Midsummer Eve 2022 is on Friday 24 June – it’s always celebrated on the Friday between 19 and 25 June. Traditionally, the day was connected to magic, and gathering wild flowers was a way to secure nature’s magical powers to ensure good health for the rest of the year. Niki Brantmark of myscandinavianhome, first experienced it on a visit to Sweden when she was just nine. “I have wonderful memories of wearing a floral crown and dancing around a maypole. Little did I know that I was participating in Midsummer: a sacred Swedish tradition.”

Today, Midsummer is one of the oldest and most widely celebrated holidays of the year in Sweden, with friends and family gathering to celebrate the abundance of light. Swedes gather to create a large midsommarstången (maypole) dressed with wild flowers, then create beautiful floral crowns called sommarkrans. “My Swedish husband Per tells me that dancing and leaping around the maypole like a frog is in a Swede’s genes and feels perfect normal to them,” shares Niki.

“The revelry is followed by a feast of herring, potatoes, strawberries and other in-season delights, washed down with schnapps and beer – and lots of singing! Little wonder it has become one of my favourite events of the year,” says Niki. 

What to eat and drink

“Midsummer celebrations are centred around food and the big smörgåsbord feast served at home or brought along in a picnic,’ says Brontë Aurell in her book Scandi Kitchen: Midsommar (Ryland Peters & Small, £18.99). “Here, new potatoes with dill always feature, as does tangy matjes herring, or, any pickled herring. Added to this are classic dishes such as beetroot salad , swedish meatballs, västerbottenpaj and an array of lovely summer salads and sliced meats. All of this is enjoyed with a helping of Scandinavian aquavit, a strong, grain-based spirit. Each shot must be downed in one and accompanied by a good sing-song of the famous Helan går tune. Everybody joins in, old and young, to celebrate the never-ending daylight of Midsummer.”

Top Midsummer tips

“If you’re lucky enough to be in Sweden for Midsummer, wrap up warm; it’s traditional to spend the day outdoors no matter what the weather. A common joke is that rain, gale-force winds and occasionally even snow will invariably feature in the forecast,” laughs Niki.

“Experiencing midsummer in Scandinavia is truly magical, and the lasting light really is something quite special,” agrees Brontë. “If you can’t make it up to the Northern shores, most big cities around the world have Scandinavian immigrant and populations, and there is bound to be a Midsummer picnic or event happening. Just take it easy on that aquavit.”

Photography (banner): Anna Hållams/; Davide Biscuso on Unsplash; Peter Cassidy/Scandi Kitchen: Midsommar (Ryland Peters & Small).