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midsummer

Have a Swedish midsummer party at home!

Posted in Something Swedish by
Midzomerfeest organiseren bij je thuis

My plan was to spend most of June (just like it was my plan last year) in Sweden. I wanted to be there on the National Day, enjoy the Swedish summer and celebrate midsommar in the archipelago near Stockholm. We all know why I didn’t make it to Sweden… Let’s hope for next year (please go away, corona!) and this year I’ll just celebrate midsummer at home once again. Below you will find tips for organizing a Swedish midsummer party at home!

The longest day of the year has been celebrated since the sixteenth century and is just as important in Sweden as Christmas. There are a few things to organize if you want to throw a Swedish midsummer party. Invitations, picking recipes with typical midsummer dishes, getting decorations at home, figuring out how you can set up a midsommarstång (maypole) at home,… It will be a party you will never forget! And who knows, you might convince your guests to celebrate midsummer together again next time, but in Sweden!

The invitations

The Midsummer Festival is celebrated on the Friday evening that falls between 19 and 25 June. This year, Friday 25 June 2021 will be on the invitations! You can also organize a midsummer party at another time.

Forget the weather forecast. Everyone dreams of a sunny evening, but the reality is often that it is cold and rainy. The Swedes sometimes laugh that it is equally warm at Christmas as on midsummer. The years that the sun is present only become more memorable because of it.

On my invitation I put: There is no bad weather, only bad clothes. So your guests immediately know that they should also provide a thick sweater and/or a raincoat. And above all: that they should not let the weather determine their mood, haha. You can also work with a dress code. In Sweden, many people wear the national or local costume on this day. You could also just ask your guests to come in blue/yellow clothes.

The decoration

In terms of decoration for the midsummer party, you can let yourself go. Lanterns, Swedish flags, natural materials such as branches, flowers,… Everything is possible. Also keep some blankets on hand for when it gets colder. If you want to organize a Swedish midsummer party, try to use as many reusable materials as possible. Short of glasses, plates or cutlery? Visit the local thrift store and pick out a variety of wonderfully old-fashioned pieces. I also like to put some citronella candles (bye bye mosquitoes !) on the table. And I dream of a beautiful firebowl with a Swedish Torch!

The showpiece of the decoration is the midsommarstång or maypole. This stick is completely decorated and straightened at the start of the festivities. At my midsummer party, a decorated pool noodle will serve as maypole. An old brush stick can also serve. A little creativity and imagination can’t hurt organizing a midsummer party, haha.

Naturally, the flower crowns should not be missing either. If you live in a rural area, you can pick wild flowers. No flower-rich meadows nearby? Then order some flowers from the local florist. The tutorial for making your own flower crown can be found here. If you think making a flower crown yourself is too laborious, you can get one in fabrics.

Also think practical: what do you do when it rains on midsommarafton (the eve of midsummer)? Can you quickly set up a tent or other weather protection? Can the party move indoors?

Midsummer food

Op tafel met midzomer - Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se
Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se

Typical midsummer dishes should not be missed. My favorite is the gravad lax. You can make these yourself or get them in the store. Herring, new potatoes with dill and even Swedish meatballs are also part of the buffet. I also serve Hasselback potatis and Janssons frestelse. In fact, you can just put all the dishes you like on the table in buffet form.

Tip: visit the Foodmarket of Ikea. There you will find a lot of ingredients for the smörgåsbord or the traditional Swedish feast.

The midsummer pie with strawberries is just about the most important part of the feast. Swedes like to eat a lot of strawberries. This year I opt for a midsummer cake with meringue.

Have you heard of Aquavit ? Like vodka, this drink is made from potatoes. These snaps are eagerly drunk with midsummer. If you want the Swedish way, practice the lyrics of the drinking song Helan går (freely translated: ad fundum). You sing it as a toast.

Organize a midsummer party: animation

You can make your flower crown in advance and set up the maypole or you can do this together with your guests. Fun guaranteed and it helps to get your guests in a Swedish mood.

In Sweden, young and old alike sing and dance around the maypole. I can imagine your friends and family here might need some aquavit before joining in. If they also participate without snaps, then you really have the right friends, haha. The lyrics can be found here.

Entertain your guests with games from the good old days such as a sack race, tug-of-war, petanque (boule bars are very popular in Sweden). Or play typical Swedish games like kubb.

To conclude: pick 7 different flowers and, according to ancient tradition, place them under your pillow before going to sleep. Bet that in your dream you will see your true love?

Midzomerfeest - Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se
Anna Hållams/imagebank.sweden.se

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Have a Swedish midsummer party at home
19 June 2021
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How Sweden celebrates midsummer

Posted in Something Swedish by
Midsummer in Sweden

Last year I celebrated midsummer in Sweden for the first time. What a wonderful party! In Sweden, midsummer is just as important as Christmas . Girls wear flower crowns in their hair and a lot of people wear traditional costumes. The maypole is straightened together with the entire village, after which children and adults dance around it while they sing about frogs.

Midsommar or midsummer

The Swedes celebrate the start of the summer, the time of the solstice, on the Friday that is closest to June 21 (ie the Friday between June 19 and 25). It is a real holiday: just like at Christmas (almost) everyone is home and almost all shops are closed. On midsommarafton or the eve of the midsummer party, the shops and museums close earlier so that everyone has time to prepare the party. Midsummer is mainly celebrated with family or friends. For many Swedes, midsummer is the start of their summer vacation.

If you are in Sweden with midsummer, try to find out in advance where you can attend a traditional midsummer celebration. If you’re lucky, Swedish friends will invite you to this party. I myself was in Mora last year and happened to come by a very authentic midsummer party in one of the neighborhoods. Whoever is in Stockholm may experience the city as ’empty’. Most of them go to their summer house (or that of friends). Yet with midsummer in Stockholm you can also go to Skansen for a traditional celebration.

The maypole

Under loud encouragement from the public, some strong men (and women) set up the maypole (in Swedish: midsommarstång or majstång). The May tree is a cross-shaped pole that is completely decorated with greenery and ribbons and symbolizes the fertility of the earth. The different villages / neighborhoods sometimes outdo each other with the most beautiful or largest maypole.

Små grodorna

Young and old will dance and sing around the maypole. Everyone happily participates. You soon learn the dances. The day before midsummer I had practiced the song Små grodorna on the Inlandsbanan together with some Swedish couples. A moment I will never forget! They taught me the lyrics of the song and the accompanying dance. Imagine: 9 adults who happily jump around like frogs in the aisle of the train. Memorable!

Strawberries and aquavit

Besides the maypole you can also see strawberries (or strawberry cake) popping up everywhere. The Swedes are crazy about these red fruits and eat a lot of them during midsummer. A little later in the evening the aquavit (strong drink) should not be missed. All kinds of traditional Swedish dishes are on the table (lots of vegetables but also potatoes and fish).

Just as traditional as pickled herring and potato salad is the fact that the weather is often less good. The Swedes sometimes laugh that it is just as cold on Christmas as it is on midsummer. A few years ago it was even the reverse and in certain places in the south of Sweden it was warmer at Christmas than on midsummer.

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Midsummer in Sweden
17 June 2019
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Make your own Swedish midsummer flower crown – tutorial

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Make your own Swedish midsummer flower crown

Midsummer is approaching, I thought it would be nice to post a tutorial ‘making a flower wreath’. For this tutorial I asked the help of expert Gillian Lowyck. She brought organic flowers and we had a lot of fun making our own floral crown for midsummer.

Creating a flower crown tutorial

What do you need to make flower crowns?

  • Magical flower tape – if you stretch the tape, it will stick.
  • Rope with a fine metal wire
  • Flowers and leafs
  • Good wire cutter
  • Possibly a water spray to keep the crown ‘fresh’ for a long time
Creating a flower crown tutorial

Swedish flower crown tutorial

Start by measuring the ribbon / rope. Take the circumference of your head (also choose how you want to place the crown on your head – on your head or slightly more obliquely like a diadem) and take an extra 10 cm. Make a loop on one side.

Creating a flower crown tutorial
Creating a flower crown tutorial

Then make 10 mini-bouquets. Let your creativity run free. Do you want a symmetrical crown or not? Choose a few eye-catchers in every bouquet and make sure there is some stuffing and a bit of green. You bind them together with the magical flower tape.

Creating a flower crown tutorial
Creating a flower crown tutorial

You can now attach those little bouquets, also with flower tape, to the string that forms the basis for your wreath. Place the bouquet with the flowers towards the loop. Then you place the following bouquet on top in a scaled fashion. Continue this way until you reach the penultimate bouquet.

Creating a flower crown tutorial
Creating a flower crown tutorial

Maybe you will have to make a few extra bouquets. This depends on the length of the rope and the size of the bouquets. You put the last bouquet in the opposite direction so that you can camouflage the stems.

Creating a flower crown tutorial
Creating a flower crown tutorial

To camouflage the closure of the crown, you can tie a ribbon around it. Ready for the Swedish midsummer party!

Midzomer tutorial bloemenkroon maken

Glad midsommar!

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Make your own swedish midsummer flower crown - tutorial
16 June 2019
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