Today, Saturday 25 June 2016, is a bank holiday in Sweden, just like every Saturday after the summer solstice on the 21st. Yesterday we celebrated “Midsommar” with our Swedish friends; it’s the second biggest celebration in Sweden after Christmas!
The same thing happens in each village, everyone meets at 3pm at the maypole for the celebrations. It’s a big cross decorated with flowers and decked out with two circles on each side. But before you go to the party you have to get ready. You can wear a spring or summer outfit, but it has to be countrified! Pale colours, light fabrics… just don’t forget the flowers! In the morning the women go out to collect wildflowers and make crowns with the bouquets.
Elsa found a few flowers along the roadside and, thanks to the patience and kindness of Eva (pronounced iiiva), she learnt to make her own crown. Eva has pedagogical experience as she has been a schoolteacher for over 40 years. For the last few of those she has taught Swedish to immigrant children aged between 7 and 10.
Once you’ve got your crown you can go to the maypole like hundreds of other families. People mostly come for their children as the dances are quite childish. A musical trio of guitar, accordion and voice set the tone and we get into circles, hold hands, go forwards and backwards, right, left, turn around, clap our hands, imitate animals, touch our right neighbour, then the left… basically it’s a nice time to spend with family.
After barely 30 minutes of dancing everybody claps and the circles slowly disintegrate, the children run around everywhere, and the adults order a few sugary snacks like cinnamon rolls and waffles with jam. Eventually everyone makes their way home to end the festivities with a big family meal at home.
In the evening, according to tradition, the women take apart their crowns and choose seven different flowers to put under their pillow. If they dream of a particular man that night, it means he is her future husband! Eva did it; I bet you can’t guess who she dreamt of!
[On the road, at the 58 ° 56′ 27. 5 “N and 11 ° 11’23.2” E]