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Summer Solstice Celebration: Midsummer Day in Sweden

Around the time of the summer solstice, Sweden celebrates Midsummer. Midsummer Sweden celebrations and traditions, such as its Midsummer magic beliefs, offer a close look at Swedish culture as a whole. And as any successful language-learner can attest to, understanding a country’s culture is essential in mastering language!

At SwedishPod101.com, we hope to make this learning journey both fun and informative for you, as we go over the details of the Midsummer festival Sweden celebrates each year.

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1. What is Midsummer in Sweden?

Midsummer is celebrated near the summer solstice, which is the date when the day is the longest and the night is the shortest. The origin of celebrating this day is really just to enjoy the longest day of the year. The correct day to celebrate Midsummer should really be June 21, when the summer solstice typically occurs.

Midsummer is, strangely enough, not a public holiday in Sweden, even if it’s described in the law text in the same manner as other holidays like Christmas and Easter Saturday.

Midsummer Sweden celebrations used to be of a more pagan nature, before the Christian church Christianized the holiday in the 1300 and 1400s. This involved trying to get people to use the day as a commemoration of St. John, but most Swedes didn’t go along with this. Today, Midsummer Day can be described as a mixed holiday, with some celebrating its religious nature and others just enjoying the warm, long day.

2. When is Midsummer Day?

Midsummer pole

The date of the Midsummer Day in Sweden varies each year, but is always on a day between the 20th and 26th of June. For your convenience, here’s a list of this holiday’s date for the next ten years.

  • 2019: June 22
  • 2020: June 20
  • 2021: June 26
  • 2022: June 25
  • 2023: June 24
  • 2024: June 22
  • 2025: June 21
  • 2026: June 20
  • 2027: June 26
  • 2028: June 24

3. Reading Practice: Midsummer Sweden Celebrations

Dancing Around the Pole

How do Swedes celebrate Midsummer Day? On Midsummer Day, Sweden has a variety of traditions. Midsummer Eve Sweden traditions include good food, drinking songs, and much more. Read the Swedish text below to discover more about Midsummer Sweden celebrations, and find the English translation directly below it.

På midsommarafton är det tradition att resa en midsommarstång. Midsommarstången är utformad som ett kors och kläs med björklöv och blommor. Sedan dansar man i stor grupp runt stången och sjunger olika sånger, ofta ackompanjerat av dragspel. Kvinnor och barn brukar göra egna kransar av björklöv och blommor som de har i håret. Man får dock akta sig för fästingar!

På midsommar är det nog bra om du är extra försiktig! I samband med midsommar finns en stark tradition av alkoholkonsumtion. Det är vanligt att dricka snaps och sjunga snapsvisor till maten, för att senare på kvällen övergå till lite andra alkoholhaltiga drycker. Detta gör midsommar till en av de dagarna på året då mest fylleri och bråk inträffar. Eftersom midsommar är starten på mångas semester är det många som reser just runt den här tiden. På grund av detta inträffar mycket trafikolyckor.

Små Grodorna är en sång som sjungs när vi dansar runt midsommarstången! Dansen är rolig och de dansande imiterar grodor. Dansen brukar bli extra populär efter ett par snaps!

Maten är också väldigt viktigt i firandet. Man äter matjessill, gräddfil, färskpotatis, och jordgubbar till efterrätt. Till maten dricker man Snaps, öl, och cider.

On Midsummer Eve it is tradition to put up a maypole. The maypole is shaped like a cross and covered with leaves and flowers. People then dance around the pole in a large group and sing different songs, often accompanied by an accordion. Women and children usually make their own wreaths of leaves and flowers and wear them in their hair. However, one must beware of ticks!

At Midsummer it is probably good if you are extra careful! In conjunction with Midsummer, there is a strong tradition of alcohol consumption. It is common to drink snaps and sing drinking songs to accompany the food, and later on in the evening to continue to drink other alcoholic beverages. This makes Midsummer one of the days of the year when the most drunkenness and fights occur. Since Midsummer is the start of many people’s holiday, a lot of Swedish people are traveling right around this time. Because of this, a higher number of traffic accidents also occurs.

The Small Frogs is the name of a song that is sung when we dance around the maypole! The dance itself is quite funny, as the dancers are imitating frogs. The dance usually becomes extra popular after a few snaps!

The food is also a very important part of the celebration. You eat pickled herring, sour cream, early potatoes, and strawberries for dessert. With the food, you drink schnapps, beer, and cider.

4. Midsummer Magic in Sweden

In Sweden, there are many supernatural beliefs about Midsummer, often referred to as “Midsummer magic.”

For example, it’s said that if children pick seven or nine flowers, climb over nine field fences, and fall asleep without a word, the child will see its future in their dream.

It’s also said that if you put seven different kinds of flowers under your pillow on Midsummer Eve, you’ll end up dreaming about the person you’ll marry in the future!

5. Useful Vocabulary for Midsummer Day in Sweden

Slice of Strawberry Cake

Here’s the most important vocabulary you should know for Midsummer Day in Sweden!

  • Potatis — “Potato”
  • Sill — “Herring”
  • Staket — “Fence”
  • Dragspel — “Accordion”
  • Midsommardagen — “Midsummer’s Day”
  • Dill — “Dill”
  • Dansa runt stången — “Dance around the pole”
  • Inlagd sill — “Pickled herring Sweden”
  • Midsommarkrans — “Midsummer wreath”
  • Midsommarstång — “Midsummer pole”
  • Midsommar — “Midsummer”
  • Jordgubbstårta — “Strawberry cake”
  • Snaps — “Shot”
  • Sju sorters blommor — “Seven different kinds of flowers”

To hear each vocabulary word pronounced, check out our Swedish Midsummer Day vocabulary list. Here, each word is accompanied by an audio file of its pronunciation.

Conclusion

What do you think about Midsummer Day celebrations in Sweden? Does your country also have a Midsummer holiday, and if so, are traditions similar or very different to the Midsummer Fest Sweden has? Let us know in the comments! We always love hearing from you. :)

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