Monday, June 25, 2012

Glad Midsommar! (Happy Midsummer!)

by Noel Piatek

Midsummer is a holiday recognized all over Scandinavia and Europe. However, Midsummer is especially important in Sweden wherein Christmas is the only other holiday more celebrated. Midsummer was created to welcome summertime and celebrate fertility, and although it appears to have turned into a large celebration to be with family, many of the traditions remain intact. Midsummer was traditionally the longest day and the shortest night of the year, but has since been moved so that it falls on a Friday. The day begins with a collection of flowers to create wreaths for the maypole, after the pole is decorated it is raised in front of all who gather, and dancing to classic folk songs ensues. There is also traditional food eaten on this day, consisting of pickled herring and boiled new potatoes with dill and sour cream. For dessert there is usually a delicious cake topped with strawberries and cream.

Today we were invited by our Swedish professor, Dag Avango, to celebrate Midsummer in Bredang, a suburb neighborhood of Stockholm. Before going to the celebration Dag gave us background about Bredang and also the traditions of Midsummer. We arrived just as the dancing started and many of us partook in learning the new steps and dancing around the pole with the local people. Later, a group of older people dressed in traditional Swedish folk costumes took to the maypole and danced to classic Swedish music. There were also a few tents where traditional Swedish pastries as well as candied apples and cotton candy for the children could be had. Some members of our group created the traditional Midsummer crowns by going into the forest and picking beautiful flowers and twigs for support. They were actually quite good! We spent most of the afternoon here, basking in the sun and enjoying the high energy of the celebration.

Later in the afternoon, we all returned to the beach by our dorms and created a nice bonfire. We talked about the day and watched the sun set. We all went to sleep early because we were exhausted from the day’s festivities. It was an awesome experience to celebrate Midsummer authentically with everyone and it is definitely something I will always remember.

Noel Piatek is a senior studying Integrative Biology with a concentration on Conservation and Ecology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is from Homer Glen, Illinois.


Post a Comment

Cookie Settings