Back in the day people believed Midsummer was full of spiritual power, love and magic. And I’m sure all Swedes can still agree on that. Midsummer is pretty magic. Here are some fun traditions to try if you want a bit of Swedish magical Midsummer.
By Caroline Brandelius, 22 May 2019
7 flowers under the pillow
Picking seven flowers is the tradition from the 18th century of putting flowers under your pillow and dreaming about your future husband. It’s still a popular tradition in some parts of Sweden. When you pick your seven flowers you should also jump over seven paddock fences. And it all has to be done in silence to not break the magic. When you are done all that you will be completely exhausted and dream about the man of your life.
For women it was important to find a husband and get married. Their whole future depended on finding the right husband. Midsummer was normally the time of year when different villages met up after a long isolated winter. Therefore all kinds of superstitious acts took place to predict future marriages.
Besides picking seven flowers you could also eat something very salty, like herring or dream porridge. Dream porridge was made out of flour water and salt. Then in your dreams your future husband would come and quench your thirst. Based on what kind of drink he was offering, you could tell if the marriage was going to be rich or poor.
Naked in the morning
It was believed that herbs, grass, flowers and all kinds of greenery hold special power and magic during midsummer. Therefor a lot of people rolled around naked in the morning dew on Midsummer, a way to help them stay healthy and strong for the rest of the year.
Even the Midsummer crowns made out of flowers were kept all the way to Christmas. At Christmas they were put in the bath to boost people’s immune systems and general health.
Dance around the Midsummer Pole
Swedes also have a strong tradition of dancing around a several meter high pole dressed in greenery and flowers. Rumors says that the Midsummer Pole is a phallic symbol, but that is not the truth. The Midsummer Pole was first introduced to Swedes by Germans that call it a Maypole. And why we dress it in greenery and flowers is a celebration of summer’s blooming arrival. The most famous dance around the pole is the frog dance, små grodorna, where Swedes jump around the pole imitating frogs.
Herring, snaps and new potato
Herring, schnapps and new potato are the magical three combination you have to eat at Midsummer. There is no Midsummer without this combo. It is also important that the new fresh potato is cooked with dill. Herring and potato were everyday food back in the 18th century. But to make it more festive at Midsummer they had it with sour cream, which we enjoy now too, especially together with some chopped chives.
In modern times a lot of Swede’s love having their first dip in the sea at Midsummer. At midnight it is still pretty bright thanks to the summer solstice. After a few schnapps in your body you feel pretty confident to go for a skinny dip in freezing cold water. And maybe this comes from the tradition of rolling around naked in the morning dew. The midnight dip is pretty magical especially if you do it together with your Midsummer flirt.
Have a Magical Midsummer
If you are down under over Midsummer, you can come and get a little bit of Swedish Midsummer magic at Fika. We have a maypole (feel free to dance around it ;) ) and we offer our favourite herring ‘Silly Susan‘ takeaway. For those who got a spot at our Midsummer Party, see you soon!