Midsommar In The Land of the Midnight Sun

Carolina Romare

Talking seals. Singing like frogs. Rolling naked in the morning dew.

Welcome to Midsommar or Midsummer, in Scandinavia.

This is the when celebrations accompany the actual solstice takes place on a day between June 19 and June 25 and the preceding evening. Once observed on St. John’s day, June 24, it is now observed on the Friday and Saturday between June 19 and June 25.

It is during this time that the nations of Iceland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Greenland, and Russia ring true to their name “The Land of Midnight Sun.” A quarter of Finland’s territory lies north of the Arctic Circle, and at the country’s northernmost point the sun does not set at all for 60 days during summer. In Svalbard, Norway, the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, there is no sunset from approximately April 19 to August 23.

It’s no secret that Northerners know how (& why) to celebrate the long, sweet days of summer! The precious, warmer days mean spending time with friends and family as often as possible. Making special memories with each gathering and sharing the spirit of joy and gratitude. Touches of Nordic design on the table, and of course, sharing a meal made from delicious Midsummer recipes are tradition.

Here are a few wonderful new items straight from Scandinavia that will help you make your next midsummer gathering a memorable one…

Our favorite cookbook this summer is SkandiKitchen Summer by Brontë Aurell, Danish cook, author, and restaurateur. And happily she has included her fabulous Midsummer Strawberry Cake recipe!

And treat yourself and your guests to a beautiful and welcoming table. For a few suggestions to help… CLICK HERE.

Start with a great Midsummer Menu (many ingredients are available at our Nordic Marketplace):

  • Matjes sill  (herring)
  • Boiled new potatoes with fresh dill
  • Cold cucumber salad
  • Leksands Crispbread
  • Swedish “Midsommar” Cake

Here are some ideas to create a Midsummer atmosphere of your own:

  • Have your meal outside
  • Decorate your table with wildflowers, wooden maypoles and Nordic flags
  • Make flower rings and wear them in your hair
  • Create a maypole with branches and wildflowers
  • Learn a ring dance and dance around your maypole
  • Fill the air with Scandinavian music!
  • Treat yourself and your guests to a beautiful and welcoming table. For a few suggestions to help… click here

In the Nordic countries some midsommar traditions include:

  • Bonfires. These are traditional in all the countries but in Denmark it includes the traditional burning of a broomstick witch, and in Finland bonfires (kokko) are common at lakesides and by the sea.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAfoQlI_d7E&w=560&h=315]

  • It is said that cows are able to speak on Jónsmessa (Iceland’s midsummer) and seals become human.
  • In Finland, often branches from birch trees (koivu) are placed on both side of the front door to welcome visitors.
  • Greenery placed over houses and barns were supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock; this old tradition of decorating with greens continues in Sweden.
  • In Sweden, Små grodorna, a dancing game in which people of all ages hop around the pole while singing about little frogs. The goofiness is part of the fun!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceL8-N1qWss&w=560&h=315]

  • Norway, Sweden and Finland share the traditional belief that if a girl picks seven different flowers in silence of the midsummer night and puts them underneath her pillow, she will dream of her future husband. (If she puts them under a “My Pillow” I wonder if she’ll dream of Mike Lindell?)
  • Midsummer is a Finnish Flag Day where the flag is hoisted at 6 pm on Midsummer’s Eve and flown all night till 9 pm the following evening.
  • Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is a tradtion in Sweden.
  • In Denmark the song “Vi elsker vort land…” (“We Love Our Country”) is sung at every bonfire on this evening. You can listen to it here:

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50LgG8cW6Qc&w=560&h=315]

Lena Granefelt
  • Gathering flowers in Sweden to weave into wreaths and crowns was a way to harness nature’s magic to ensure good health throughout the year.
  • A custom in Western Norway is the arranging mock weddings, both between adults and between children. The wedding was meant to symbolize the blossoming of new life.
  • In Iceland it is good fortune to roll around naked in the morning dew on the 24th, a custom still practiced today by those particularly dedicated to the holiday.

Still not sure about all of this? Watch Swedish Midsummer for dummies to get some tips:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8ZLpGOOA1Q&w=560&h=315]

Can’t make it to the old country for Midsommar? Join us on June 24th at the Scandinavian Summer Fest, or Svenskarnas Dag, at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis. It runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be a Swedish church service at 10:30, dancing around the Midsummer Pole, Scandinavian foods and handicrafts, music and dance groups from the Midwest, Sweden, and Norway, and the crowning of the 2019 Miss Svenskarnas Dag and Jr. Royalty.

Finally, enjoy a video made of a Finnish Midsummer

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFneI_D_0Ss&w=560&h=315]