Monday, June 27, 2011

Midsommer Fest

It is dark in Sweden much of the year, and their summers are short.

But the middle of June brings the summer soltice: the longest day, when the sun shines through the night. I was there once during this time, and it is indeed light all night long.

It is also cause for celebrating in almost every Swedish town.  

Midsummer Day, a celebration of summer and the season of fertility, was originally celebrated on June 24 to commemorate John the Baptist. In 1953, it was moved to the nearest Saturday.

And so, in a town settled by Swedish immigrants, and in true Swedish tradition, Midsommardagen was celebrated last Saturday in Lindstrom, Minnesota.

Dancing around the maypole
It starts early in the morning with the building of the maypole by some trusty, hard workers, who must first gather freshly-cut branches to wrap around the large pole. These are carefully woven around and across the pole. 

Flowers must be gathered and assembled in and around the branches to decorate the pole. Wreaths are also made of fresh flowers and branches.

After colorful ribbons are tied on, the Swedish flag is placed on top. 

It is then raised by several strong hands and placed in a well-dug hole in the ground.

In our town, we are fortunate to have a long-standing Swedish Club, and a dedicated instructor for teaching young people traditional Swedish dance. They performed for the crowd, dancing around the beautiful maypole, as is done in Sweden, and then inviting the rest of us to join them.

Food, of course, is the other feature of the festival. Swedish sausage, riced potatoes, herring, crackers, and many delectable dishes and desserts are served. Everybody brings something to share. It always amazes me that no two dishes are alike. Such a wonderful variety!

They say it always rains or at least drizzles for a while in Sweden on Midsummer Day. And sure enough, it sprinkled enough for umbrellas to be raised as folks began to gather together. But the sun came out and the skies cleared for the remainder of the evening.

Varma Midsommar Hälsningar!  (or Happy Midsommer Day)