14 things that will happen if you join a Midsommar celebration in Sweden

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

On a Friday around the summer solstice, Sweden celebrates its most important holiday of the year after Christmas: Midsommar – a 4th of July without fireworks. Most people join the festivities in someone’s summer home in the countryside by the ocean. If you’re lucky to know a Swede who’s going to be in Sweden by that time of the year, force him/her to take you with him/her, so you can experience the madness. Here’s what you can expect:

1. If you take the train to a summer house, it will be most likely be delayed. If you’re unlucky and have to take two trains, both of them will be delayed and a one-hour ride will easily turn into a five-hour trip.

2. If you get to the summer house, you will think that you’re in a catalogue of a Swedish furniture store.

3. For starters, you’ll drink pink bubbly.

4. You will set up a midsommar pole (which most likely derived from a German maypole) and nobody can explain why. But everyone tells you that it looks like a dick (fertilizing the earth?). And if you’re like me and someone mentions a pole, you’ll automatically think the Swedes enjoy stripper pole parties just like you do in the US.

5. The Swedes will tell you that the pole will be burnt at some point, but later you find out that they’re just messing with you.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

The pole

6. If you’re a girl, you’ll pick flowers and/or buy flowers and create a headband from them. Always make it a bit too small because it will loosen. Chances are yours will be way too big if you’re attempting this for the first time.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Step 1: Picking the flowers

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Step 2: Getting the frame from a birch tree twig

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Step 3: Wrapping wire around the flowers

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

See – on first try, the flower head bands are too big!

7. You will attempt to eat pickled herring (and try to not spit it out), have salmon, potatoes, sour cream with chives, knäckebröd (crisp bread) and rye bread for lunch.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Pickled herring

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

8. For dessert, you’ll have a super sweet cake – midsommartårta – made from cream and strawberries (in my case it was egg whites, lemon custard, and strawberries) and clean your mouth and hands with Swedish flag napkins.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Pink bubbly and strawberry cake

9. While you’re having lunch, you’ll sing Swedish songs (one on the German melody of O Tannenbaum – another thing they stole from the Germans) and have a shot of Schnapps (elder flower – yum!) after each one.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Schnapps from the Southern region in Sweden

10. At some point, you’ll go for a swim in the ocean (because the weather is notoriously bad on Midsommar you might skip this).

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

11. You will dance around the midsommar pole pretending you’re frogs or singing about grandma’s little crow who drove into a ditch.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Photo by Juwar N.

12. For the next round of food, there’ll be BBQ, even more potatoes, cheese tarte, corn and a salad with strawberries.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

cheese tarte

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

13. If you’re not stuffed yet, you can have dessert.

Sweden Midsummer Midsommar celebration

Dessert!

14. If you haven’t passed out from all the food and alcohol yet, you soon will!

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