Glad Midsommar

Today is Sweden’s second biggest holiday and many’s favourite holiday, including mine, as it’s all about being together with friends and family, eating, drinking and having fun! Midsommarafton (Midsummers Eve) is part of an old pagan holiday and goes back some thousand years,  celebrating summer and light! It is always celebrated on the Friday closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In majority of Sweden it doesn’t go dark during this time of the year.

Most people celebrate Midsommarafton in the country side, if you go to Stockholm this weekend it will probably be a bit quiet, there might even be some tumbleweed blowing down the streets. My childhood midsummers eve would start with strawberries in my breakfast cereal, eaten on the veranda listening to the birds singing. Then I’d go out and pick two large midsummers bouquet’s with wild flowers, one for mum and one for our neighbour. When we were little kids, we would make and raise a maypole too and do the silly little dances and maybe play some games. At an older age, there would be the sillunch, with new potatoes in dill, with pickled herrings in different flavours and ‘nubbe’ aka snaps. Followed later on by a BBQ in the early evening, finished off with strawberry cake – yum!  And the evening is usually spent sitting outside on the veranda, eating and drinking, chatting and laughing the night away, rudely interrupted by the pesky mosquitos. And best of all is the bright summer night. I still marvel at the light blue sky that never goes dark, it’s the most wonderful, magical and empowering thing the northern Swedish summers night, it just fills me with warm gooey happiness inside and reminds me of why I love Sweden so much.

So today I will have to go to work with a heavy heart and a strong sense of homesickness and totally against my cultural heritage and tradition, I wonder if I can apply for it as a day off…. Although I will pop into Scandi Kitchen and try to get a jar of pickled herring and maybe even some snaps and teach Mat some snaps songs, it’s about time he learns some more Swedish culture, so I’ll start with the most important ones.  Wishing you all a Glad Midsommar!

Here is a little fun video about midsummers and some of my own photos of it.

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Valborgsmässoafton

Today is the last day of April and in the UK it doesn’t mean much, perhaps we hope that it’s the end of April showers and we also know that the May bank holiday is around the corner. In Sweden however, the last day of April is Valborgsmässoafton, traditionally an old pagan holiday,  in more modern times the meaning of the holiday has changed and is celebrated as a way of welcoming spring and the light back into our lives. This is done my lighting big bonfires. So if you go to Sweden in April and look around the country side you will often see big piles of branches, leaves, old unwanted wooden furniture and other burnable items, Mat was a witness to these when we went home 2 weeks ago and he was curious as to why so many people had massive piles of rubbish everywhere. So I told him of our Valborg celebration, or just Sista April as we say where I’m from. There is usually one big bonfire for each village and it’s usually lit around 9pm, then everyone gather near the bonfire and sing the Swedish classic Längtan till landet, or more commonly known as ‘Vintern rasat’ to welcome spring in and then it’s all finished off with a fire work display and maybe a tipple or two to keep you warm in the cold, crisp spring evening.

So I’ll leave you with this. (I’m sure Mick will like it, seeing as he likes choirs)