Midsommaring Like a Swede

Bucket List: One down, One to go!


Traditional Midsummer at Harstena Village

As of last week I had two things to do on my bucket list: attend Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden like a Swede, and go cave exploring in Gaping Gill in the North of England.

Not much for a bucket list, I know . . . but when I first heard of either, obviously something stuck enough for me to jot them down under the note Bucket List. With only one event left to do, I figured I had better write this post fast!!! :S So here it is: Doing Midsommar like a Swede!

What is Midsummer? It’s a fair question if you aren’t from Sweden or have any Swedish friends. It is their biggest national holiday, coming in a close second to Christmas, but this all depends on who you ask. Some prefer the celebrations of frolicking around a fertility pole in a field to waiting for a Finnish Santa to bring them presents. Yup you read right, I said fertility pole! The point of Midsummer is to encourage the harvest, which is why a symbolic penis wrapped with foliage is erected into the earth, only by men and is the centrepiece of the celebration. Hot fact since many Swedes don’t even know this.

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In the small fishing archipelago village of Harstena, where we spent the weekend, the maypole was raised in an old school yard and celebrated by locals and visitors to the island by boat. Festivities included bring your own picnic, listening to a live but quite old traditional Swedish folk band, and watching people of all ages leapfrog to the Midsummer classic små grodorna. My favourite part of the field party was the strawberry whip cream cake, but sadly since we arrived by kayak we didn’t bring one with us. It is common that groups attending a Midsummer celebration bring their own homemade cake, which can vary greatly depending on the host, and share it with those in their group. After eyeing up the cakes of others and feeling like I desperately missed out, Wolfgang (another crew member here at DTN) went over and asked a local for a slice of hers. Since I’m a sucker for baked goods, my favourite part of Midsummer was sharing a slice of strawberry cake with friends at a picnic.