How do you celebrate Midsummer in Scandinavia?
Dancing around a decorated may pole, drinking around a bonfire, eating crayfish and generally having a good time are how Midsummer is celebrated, no matter where you live! Sweden is the regional champion of Midsummer, where the evening is second only to Christmas as the most popular national holiday. Swedes take to the countryside to make midsummer garlands, eat pickled herring with potatoes, dill and chives, drink schnapps and dance around a decorated maypole.
What do you eat at Midsummer?
No matter where you are in Scandinavia, you’ll see a table groaning with aquavit and schnapps, boiled potatoes, marinated herring and grilled fish. It’s likely there will be a big bowl of local strawberries and lashings of cream to go with it too. It’s normal to eat together as a family and friends, and to celebrate outside somewhere in the countryside. In Norway, barbecues are popular, while in Finland, warm smoked salmon and white fish are also nearly always on the table. One thing’s for sure, you won’t go hungry.
Our favourite Midsummer traditions
There are some existing traditions going back to pagan times that some people still celebrate today, amid all the usual merrymaking. The Vikings used to pray for a good harvest at this time of year, and build bonfires to ward off evil spirits, and bonfires are still built today, and are a special feature of Denmark’s Sankt Hans Aften, when effigies of witches are burned. It’s also a time of year for love potions and rituals: plants were said to have magical powers during the solstice, so women used to place wildflowers and herbs under their pillows on Midsummer’s Eve to make them dream about their future husbands.
When is Midsummer celebrated?
All across Scandinavia and the Nordics, in the ten days between 19 and 29 June, there will be people preparing for festivities, celebrating midsummer, and enjoying this special time in the middle of the year. The precise date for the celebration all depends on where you live.
In Sweden, Norway and Finland, Midsummer Eve is always celebrated on a Friday between 19 and 25 June, with the date changing from year to year. In Denmark, Midsummer is celebrated as Sankt Hans Aften and is always celebrated on the evening of 23 June.
In Iceland, Jonsmessa is celebrated 20-22 June every year, while in the Faroe Islands, midsummer is combined with another celebration, Ólavsøka, honouring the opening of parliament at the same time, on June 29.
Celebrate Midsummer with Skandinavisk