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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- “Holidays in Sweden” series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 4, Midsummer's Eve. In Swedish, it’s called midsommarafton.
Every year, Midsummer's Eve falls on a Friday, between June 19 and June 25. It’s the summer's biggest party and it usually marks the beginning of the summer holidays for many Swedes.
In this lesson, you will learn what Midsummer is, and how it is celebrated.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question? -
Do you know what happens if you put seven different kinds of flowers under your pillow at Midsummer?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Midsummer is celebrated near the summer solstice, or sommarsolståndet, which is the date when the daylight shines the longest and the night is the shortest. The origin of celebrating this day is simply just to enjoy the longest day of the year. The correct day to celebrate Midsummer should technically be June 21, when the summer solstice typically occurs. Midsummer is strangely enough not a public holiday in Sweden, even though the law describes it like other holidays such as Christmas and Easter Saturday.
On Midsummer’s Eve, it is traditional to put up a maypole, or midsommarstång. 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!
There is a strong tradition of alcohol consumption, or alkoholkonsumtion in association with Midsummer. It’s common to drink snaps and sing drinking songs to accompany the food, and later on in the evening the drinking continues with 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 the holidays for many, a lot of people travel around this time, and because of this, a higher number of traffic accidents also occur.
“The Small Frogs”, or Små grodorna, is the name of a song that is sung while dancing 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!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question.
Do you know what happens if you put seven different kinds of flowers under your pillow at Midsummer?
It’s 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 will marry in the future!
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you have any similar celebrations in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!