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Midsummer Day

Midsummer Day 2018 and 2019

Midsummer Day was originally celebrated purely as a solstice festival. In Sweden, Midsummer Day is celebrated during a weekend between June 20 and 26.

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People decorated their homes with flowers and dressed themselves in ferns. They danced around maypoles and used various methods to try to foretell the future. Young girls would dine on salted porridge before they went to sleep. If a man brought water to a girl in her dreams, he would be her future husband. People would also try to tell the future by looking at the patterns of moonbeams. Midsummer was considered a magical time, and people thought that by weaving flowers they could use the magic of nature. People weave flowers during today’s Midsummer celebrations. Other types of magic that were supposed to occur at Midsummer included water changing into wine and ferns changing into flowers.

Missionaries of the Roman Catholic Church wanted to incorporate pagan holidays into Christian feast days, and they incorporated Midsummer Day celebrations into commemorations of St. John the Baptist’s birthday on June 24. The Swedish Parliament decided during the 1950s that Midsummer Day should be celebrated during a weekend.

Sweden’s cities become deserted during this weekend. Many people begin their yearly five-week vacation around Midsummer Day and head to the countryside to take part in the celebrations. Many of these celebrations are held in public parks. Some people celebrate the day in gardens or at their summer cottages. A number of hotels hold Midsummer celebrations. Families celebrate the day together.

Many people begin the day by weaving crowns of flowers to wear. Some places in Sweden offer classes on making these crowns. People also make wreaths of flowers to adorn a maypole. People have been dancing around maypoles on Midsummer Day since the 16th century. Folk dances and ring dances around the maypole are part of the Midsummer Day festivities. One of the games played during Midsummer celebrations includes people hopping around the maypole while they sing a silly song about frogs.

Singing is also part of a traditional Midsummer Day feast. People sing while they drink cold beer and spiced schnapps. Food items on the menu include pickled herring, hardboiled eggs, roe and boiled potatoes. The potatoes are served with sour cream, chives and dill. Grilled items on the menu may include spare ribs or salmon. Chicken and lamb are sometimes part of the meal. Fresh strawberries and cream are served for dessert.

Midsummer is considered a romantic time of year, and many weddings take place. Girls pick flowers on their way home from Midsummer celebrations and put the flowers under their pillows to see if their future husbands will appear in their dreams.

Many people end their Midsummer Day festivities by stopping at an outdoor dance on the way home. Others take midnight swims or sing folk songs.