Celebrating Midsummer in Sweden
A slightly slow “hej” SHABL,
I’m still recovering from what is undoubtedly the best and wildest weekend of the year here in Sweden – Midsummer weekend. This was my second year being in this beautiful country for what is one of the most “egregious” holidays I’ve ever celebrated.
Midsummer is pretty much THE holiday in Sweden – bigger than Christmas or Easter. I’d say it’s even bigger than Christmas and Easter combined. I’m not going to go into detail about the origins of it, if you’d like to know more you can educate yourself on Sweden’s website. If you ask most Swedes what Midsummer is they are not going to bust out historical facts but rather are likely to tell you something like this: it’s going out to the countryside, spending time with loved ones, eating lots and lots of herring and strawberries, drinking lots and lots of snaps, singing silly songs, wearing flowers in your hair, dancing around the Midsummer pole, and just overall good times.
Last year my Midsummer was not wild at all because I had just come back from being on tour with The Sounds (read: 10 days of partying in Germany), so this year I wanted to make sure I went all out. Get crazy, because that’s what you do when celebrating the solstice. So drove out to the cutest sommarstuga (summer cottage) imaginable with nine of my friends on Friday afternoon. I think that must be Rule #1 for Midsummer – get out of the city.
We went to Grötsjön which is about 2 hours north of Malmö in Hallands län (not far from Ängelholm). When I say we were in the sticks, I mean, we were in the sticks. I never thought of myself as much of a nature girl but this place may have just converted me completely.
Think it was around 5 o’clock when we finally sat down for the Midsummer feast. If you don’t like fish, particularly pickled fish, then you probably won’t be too excited when dinnertime rolls around. Garlic herring, mustard herring, dill herring, blackcurrant herring, herring herring,…You have to have it all and with extra sour cream and chives on top. Caviar, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Swedish hard bread, and cheese are other Midsummer table staples.
Then there are the snaps. Oohhh sweet snaps (pronounced schnaps). Essentially shots of akvavit, vodka or brännvin, this is when the party really gets rolling. The tradition is to take semi-frequent snaps breaks throughout dinner. Instead of proposing toasts you propose (or just break into) a song which are called snapsvisor. Are you starting to see why I have fallen in love with this country?
Luckily my friend/DJ accomplice Lars broke out his grandfather’s accordian before the food coma set in forsome after dinner entertainment. It was the perfect soundtrack for preparing the best strawberry cake ever with my friend Evelina (the strawberry, also very important component to Midsummer).
This is when things started to get a little foggy, literally and metaphorically. Our best bet was to get out on the lake for some fishing and fresh air before it was time for some pole dancing. This is the stuff dreams are made of guys, I am telling you…
Back to the pole dancing. No, not that kind of pole dancing. The kind of pole dancing you do around a midsommarstång. Usually they are supposed to resemble a…nevermind, but ours turned out to look more like a baby cross with wings. No one was in shape or form to be getting all fancy with it but anyway, it got the job done.
The rest of the evening is a blur. A big, fun blur. Lots of singing, lots of dancing, lots of laughs. The next day was much more relaxed – some walking, some swimming, some BBQing. I think I fell in love with Grötsjön and cannot wait to go back. Or anywhere out in the sticks of Sweden for that matter.
I’d say my Midsummer mission to “get crazy” was completed and being that deep in nature, even if it was just for 24 hours, made me appreciate Sweden on a whole new level. This country is absolutely amazing and from here on out I’m going to try and share much more about my life here. It’s just too good to keep to myself.
Happy summer, folks!
P.S. If you are interested in seeing more of my Midsummer, check out the video I just threw up over on The Blonde Gypsy.