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Midsummer 101

A Swedish midsummer is "endless" summer with sun, fun, great food, flowers, dancing and joy ... a piece of Swedish culture to be proud of.

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Midsummer is something all Swedes look forward to, and a tradition that non-Swedes can fall in love with easily as well. In short, a piece of culture to be proud of.

Youre far from Sweden but you still want to celebrate Midsummer, so what do you do? Well, you can check to see if there are any Swedish Midsummer celebrations in your area. If not, heres what you can do to celebrate yourself. And why not invite some friends as well? For a brief introduction to Swedish Midsummer, including a handful of recipes, see Svensk Midsommar and, for Midsummer events around Swedish America, see Swedish Midsummer events in America 2018

1. Midsummer is one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden, and probably the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated. Raising and dancing around the maypole (midsommarstng or majstng) is an important activity. Wayne Soderlund constructed his own maypole with green tubes and decorated it with synthetic leaves and flowers.

2. Flowers are important. Swedes really go overboard with flowers for Midsummer. The most important one is the midsommarkrans, the flower wreath everyone (including boys and men) wear.

3. Food might be the most important ingredient in a Swedish Midsummer. A variety of pickled herrings are a must, as are chives (chopped) and grddfil" easily substituted with sour cream, as well as new potatoes boiled with dill. Bowls and bowls of strawberries are just as important for dessert, with or without whipped cream. With the herring, you drink snaps, a strong alcoholic beverage, usually aquavit or vodka. Snaps cannot be consumed without a few snapsvisor (snaps songs) to go with it.

4. Magic. This is the most magical day of the year. Why? Because it doesnt end! On Midsummer the sun doesnt set, and the day simply spills into night and then into the next day. For Swedes who have been inundated with darkness for all those long winter months, its easy to see why this day is so important. Traditionally, young unmarried women (and girls) pick seven (or nine) different kinds of flowers and put them under their pillow. When they sleep, they will dream about their future spouse. Also herbs are special on Midsummerthey are more potent than usual, and the water from springs brings good health.

5. Clothes. If you go to a Swedish Midsummer celebration, you dont want to be dressed up too much (remember you will do a lot of ringdans around the maypole so leave the fancy gowns and suits at home). However, if you do have a folkdrkt, a folk costume, this is the day to put it on. For Midsommar celebrations in Battery Park in New York City, many people show up in Swedish soccer jerseys or other Swedish T-shirts. Make sure you have a wreath of flowers on your head.

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