Picnics Scandinavian Style

June 18th, is International Picnic Day, a day we celebrate one of the greatest ways to enjoy the summer season—an outdoor picnic with friends, family, games and activities, and delicious food. June 22nd is Midsommar in Scandinavia and an excellent reason to have a picnic. (You can find out more about Midsommar in our blog post from last year.)

Photograph credit: Yuki Sugiura

A Little Picnic History

During the Victorian era, picnics were very important social occasions. They offered the rare opportunity for young men and women to spend time together in the great outdoors. They were also quite elaborate. A picnic for twenty people might feature cold salmon, lamb, veal, chicken, ham, pigeon pie, sandwiches, fruit, a selection of cheeses, and a variety of baked goods! Pigeon pie?!?!?!

Julie Ingebretsen enjoying a picnic with her grandson

Fans of Jane Austen’s novels know, 19th-century picnics were elaborate social occasions, with menus featuring a wide range of cold meats and pies that took days to prepare. But today’s picnic doesn’t have to be elaborate or time consuming – it can be as simple as family and friends in the backyard or at a local park with some sandwiches and drinks.

An article in The Norwegian American “A Brief History of Norwegian Picnics,” by Scott Larsen, stated:

Review of newspaper articles about Norwegian picnics just in the United States reveal a head-spinning 267,000-plus articles since the 1890s.

A Norwegian picnic sometimes included pjalt-style waffles, cured and smoked salmon, American elk sausage (to mirror reindeer sausage from the old country), smørbrød, and lingonberries. Washed down with a pils­ner beer or Norwegian aquavit. Bløtkake, a Norwegian cream cake, or flotegrot, a Norwegian pudding, would sometimes be served as dessert.

Great totes for bringing everything to your picnic

According to Larsen, in the same article,:

One of the largest Norwegian picnics was held in Deerfield, Wis., in 1928. Some 10,000 turned out at the picnic, sponsored by seven Sons of Norway lodges.

International Picnic Day Facts

  • According to Guinness World Records, the largest picnic took place in Portugal, 2009. 22,232 people participated. Two other records were set during that same event, largest litter bin and loudest applause.
  • The phrase “no picnic” is used to describe something unenjoyable.
  • Picnic was most likely invented by the French.  Shortly after the French Revolution ended, the Royal Gardens were opened to the public for the first time. It was the new common pastime for the French to visit the gardens and take along a meal.
  • The modern-day picnic is much less complicated. In fact, the phrase “it’s a picnic” means “it’s easy.”
  • A few sandwiches short of a picnic is a phrase used to describe someone who is a bit unstable.
Bee’s Wrap to cover your food

Some Ideas On What To Bring To A Picnic:

  • The sun may shine so take sunglasses and sunblock.
  • A nice blanket to put on the ground, even if you have a table you can use it to lay on or for kids to play on.
  • Coverings to keep your food away from bugs. We suggest Bee’s Wrap — no you don’t have to go to a hive you can find it at our store. Bee’s Wrap founder, Sarah Kaeck, discovered a lost tradition and made it new again. By infusing organic cotton with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, she created a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to foil plastics. Wrap up foods, for travel & picnics or leftovers & containers.
  • Napkins or hand wipes are a definite necessity, bugs love sticky fingers.
  • Have a good, reliable bug spray, just in case. (Mr. Bean demonstrates how bugs can just ruin your day.)

  • Bring bags to take all your rubbish home. Make sure the perfect picnic spot remains a perfect picnic spot:  “People don’t want to go to the dump and have a picnic, they want to go out to a beautiful place and enjoy their day. And so I think our job is to try to take the environment, take what the good Lord has given us, and expand upon it or enhance it, without destroying it.” – Jack Nicklaus

And, if you are looking for a great picnic idea for your kids this summer – how about having a teddy bear picnic.

A Junior First Responder/Viking

“The only thing is quality of life; if you have a place where you can go and have a picnic with your family, it doesn’t matter if it’s a recession or not, you can include that in your quality of life.” – Jim Fowler

“A picnic is more than eating a meal, it is a pleasurable state of mind.” – DeeDee Stovel

“If ants are such busy workers, how come they find time to go to all the picnics?” – Marie Dressler

Get out there and enjoy the nice weather. Here are some suggestions for 13 picnic spots in Minnesota.