My friends wearing their self-braided flower bands. Photo by me.
My first summer in Sweden meant automatically also my first celebrations of Midsummer. A Swedish friend of mine had invited a small group of friends to join her to her family’s cabin in the beautiful country side of Värmland. It was the perfect place to get to know this Swedish tradition, since midsummer is mainly an event from the country side. Packed with mosquito sprays, swimwear and lots of food and beverages we drove half a day to arrive at our destination. A beautiful red country house, located next to a lake between some fields and forests – how Swedish!
On the day of Midsummer (always a Friday evening between the 19th and 25th of June), we braided flowers bands and went to the centre of a nearby village to take part in the celebrations. It was very busy considering the size of the village and the atmosphere was vibrant and cosy. After the midsummer pole was put in place, the festivities began. A small group of musicians started to play and so the dancing could start. Midsummer is famous for it’s dances, and I think the most recognisable one is where you have to jump like a frog. Not kidding! Of course we international students wanted to try all of it and joined the families – mainly small children – in the circle. It was so much fun!
The midsummer pole being put in place. Photo Hernán Capador.
The Midsummer dinner seems to be as much of a tradition as the pole, flowers and dancing and was at least as wonderful. Between singing traditional songs and drinking schnaps we ate delicious Swedish potatoes and my friend had prepared a variety of fish and (vegetarian) meat balls. After dancing the night away it was time for the last tradition. In complete silence one must go out in the night and pick seven different flowers, carefully put them under your pillow and sleep on them. The person you dream about is the person you will marry!
Have you experienced a Swedish Midsummer yet? Or want to know more? Feel free to tell me in a reply below.
Growing up in the Netherlands, I imagined Easter to be pretty much the same all over Europe. Though Swedish Easter definitely has many aspects in common with the Dutch celebration, I was surprised by some very old traditions that I had never heard of before. When my room mates explained to me that children dress up like witches and come to the doors for candy, I was convinced they were confusing the topic with Halloween. But I was wrong! My Swedish room mate told me proudly that the Swedish Easter traditions existed long time before the American version of Halloween gained popularity in Sweden.
“Folklore alleges that witches would fly on broomsticks to a legendary meadow named Blåkulla, where they would dance with the devil.”
The tradition we are talking about is called Påskkärring (“Easter witch”), and is assumed to originate from around 1600. Folklore alleges that witches would fly on broomsticks to a legendary meadow named Blåkulla, where they would dance with the devil. A bit more exciting than Easter bunnies and eggs, don’t you agree? Based on this old story, children dress up as sweet looking witches and will make cards with drawings or rhymes which they will hand out at the doors hoping to receive Easter candy.
Amanda beautifully dressed in traditional ‘Easter-witch-clothing’
with scarf and face paint. Photo by Jeanette Axelsson.
Because of course they also eat lots of chocolate and paint chicken eggs in Sweden during Easter. The funny thing is that the chocolate eggs are different from the ones I knew: In the Netherlands we have mainly small solid chocolate eggs, individually wrapped in coloured tin foil. However, the Swedish Easter candy is presented in a beautifully decorated, very large plastic egg, which contains a lot of different chocolates and other candy inside. And while our countries share the idea of eating asparagus around Easter time, Swedes celebrates Easter with lots of fish as well.
Did you notice any other particular Swedish events this Easter? Feel free to tell all about it in the comment section below. Enjoy your Easter holidays!