Monday, June 27, 2005

Swedish Midsummer

There are so many traditions surrounding Swedish midsummer. Here's a list over some of them, to give you a feeling of what it was like here, a couple of days ago:

- You resign to the fact that, despite it being the day when you celebrate the height of summer, the summer solstice, light, etc., it will probably rain. Actually, you'll be very surprised if it doesn't rain. (This time though, it was incredibly sunny and warm. I even got sunburned!)

- Despite being convinced about the rain part, you plan most of your food around the barbie... (We had excellent barbie! It's amazing what out doors cooking can do to make very simple food very enjoyable.)

- Aside from the barbie, you also have pickled herring, new potatoes (the Swedes are a potatoe worshipping people, in Summer), sour cream, chives, and maybe meat balls. You can always have meat balls. With this, you have beer. And schnapps. (I didn't have any schnapps. It was way too hot. I had heaps of potatoe though.) Dessert: Strawberries with ice cream or whipped cream. Or milk and sugar.

- Traditionally, you will dance around a Maypole. However, since it's been many many years since Midsummer was considered a fertility rite (there should be no doubt about what the Maypole is made out to resemble), mostly small children and their parents dance around the pole, mimicking frogs. Yes, frogs. You have to see it to understand.

- If you've reached a certain age (say, 20-ish?), you develop a deep nostalgia concerning certain waltzes written during the first half of the twentieth century, strongly associated with Swedish summer. You will probably not remember any of them very well though, and you will certainly not own any records where they feature, so instead of singing them, or listening to them, you do some soft humming. (A fair bit of humming was going on where we were...)

- If you are thus disposed: Get roaring drunk, rape, beat, knife and indulge in some general pillaging. (We only got slightly tipsy, and didn't do any pillaging at all, and no raping. The fights were stylized: we played cards instead.)

- Okay, forget what I wrote about it not being a fertility rite any more: Make babies (Hrm. No comment.). Pretty much every Swedish school class experiences an increase in the number of birthday parties by the and of March...

It's a rather good time of year. Especially if you spend it in the countryside, with some good friends, your loved one and a dog.

Life is looking very fine right now.

I hope you all enjoyed the summer solstice as much as I did.

6 comments:

Hammer said...

You forgot (or left out deliberately) that despite the fact that around 10 Swedes die every year in traffic, people STILL drive during the Midsummer weekend, and still drive hungover, still drive like idiots, etc, etc...

Susanna said...

I went by train most of the way, so it didn't really cross my mind, to be honest... My bad. You are - of course - quite right.

Johan Sundström said...

It might be a better way to go, dying on Midsummer's eve, than living to see Swedish care for the elderly, though. (The so called "out with a Big Bang" theory.)

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