How to celebrate Midsummer like a Swede
Party till the sun goes down, right? Imagine if the sun never went down. That is exactly what happens during the celebration of the summer solstice in Stockholm. The sun never goes down, so the party keeps going.
Since as early as the 1500s, Swedes have been celebrating the summer solstice with amazing festivals, which marks the start of summer and the season of fertility. A holiday, as some would say, dedicated to eating, dancing, and bizarre rituals.
At the center of the craziness is the Midsummer (Midsommar) festival, which is a huge celebration for the whole country, typically held on one of the last Fridays in June.
If you decide to charter a yacht to Sweden during this time, you’d be crazy not to get involved in the festivities! While many Swedes clear out of the cities on this day to head to the countryside to celebrate the welcoming of summer, the largest celebration without a doubt is at Stockholm’s open-air museum, Skansen. So get ready to make your best flower crown and dance around the maypole while singing Swedish songs!
Pre-Swedish Midsummer celebrations
Before the festivities begin, you want to make sure to create your own Midsummer garland (sommarkrans), also known to some as a flower crown. It is a tradition to wear one on your head to symbolize the start of the season of fertility. You can pick them up in many of the shops in the days leading up to the Midsummer celebration, but you can also create your own if you’d prefer the more rustic look. At Skansen, there are people wandering around with twigs, leaves and flowers, who will show you how to make a flower crown.
How to celebrate Midsummer
No matter whether you’ll be celebrating with your family or your friends, you need to come prepared. You will want to make sure you have bug spray and a raincoat with you. Depending on where you are spending your Midsummer, make sure to arrive between 12 and 1pm. Typically, 1pm is when lunch begins.
Sweden natives will tell you that their holiday meals are very repetitive, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love it! Hopefully you like seafood, because that is the main ingredient in this holiday lunch. Prepare to feast on Swedish Sill (pickled Herring), new potatoes, and a lot of shrimp accompanied by the Swedish liquor, nubbe. Make sure you stock up, as you’ll need this delicious lunch to get you ready to start the festivities of the rest of the day!
The games begin with the raising of the maypole (midsommarstång). Traditional dances around the maypole may look very funny to those watching, but they are very fun for the Swedes to perform. One of the most common dances, “The Little Frogs” (“Små grodorna”), is done to finish the ritual of raising the maypole. The dance mostly consists of everyone channeling their inner frog and hopping their way around the pole. It’s a great way to get involved in a traditional Swedish Midsummer celebration!
Many other traditional dances and games are held between lunch and dinner. Kubb, is an ancient lawn game that has been adapted over many years. People all over the world now play this game at different parties and beach outings. It is a game of throwing wooden batons at the other team’s wooden blocks, in hopes to knock them over faster and get to the king. It may sound like a strange game, and there are a lot more rules, but it is loads of fun!
Dinner is very similar to lunch at Midsummer celebrations across the country. You’ll eat more fish, potatoes, and shrimp, but with the addition of some meatballs and sausage. The dessert will be a delicious strawberry cake.
From here you take control of the rest of your night. Stay up with your friends throughout the endless sunlight, or settle in for a nice night with the family. Whichever you choose, make sure to pick seven different flowers before bed. An old tale tells you to put them under your pillow on this one night, and you’ll dream of the one you’re going to marry.
This holiday is very special to Swedish culture and has been for many years. Dive into the culture and experience an amazing summer solstice in Stockholm. Our bareboat yacht charters offer the perfect chance to get around the islands of Stockholm – or if you can’t sail, you can hire a skipper instead.