Midsummer eve, the biggest holiday we have here in Sweden beside Christmas or Yule (Jul, as we spell it in Swedish) as we call it. The only holiday the church never managed to change into a Christian holiday, it’s all pagan and it’s all about magic and fertility. Well it was anyway, now days it’s all about getting nasty drunk and in nine months more babies than usual will be born so that part seems to be the same anyway 🙂 We’ve celebrated it for ages but the traditions have of course changed as time has passed. We don’t know much about the old celebrations to be honest and then I mean before Christianity arrived. We do know that they had ritual beer drinking and blot.
The earliest note about the midsummer pole is from the early 1600 and before that they most likely had huge bonfires, something I’m glad we don’t have now days since fire has a tendency to spread dry summers. The food has of course changed during the years but now days there are some things that is a must to eat. Pickled herring, this od and rather disgusting food is a must at any big holiday here and we who don’t eat it are always looked on as a bit suspicious 🙂 Salmon, smoked or pickled is usually on every midsummer smorgasbord too. For us suspicious ones there’s always prince sausages and meatballs and something that has become very popular these last few years is oven made omelet with mushroom stew (normally chanterelle stew).
Around noon today they’ll rise the midsummer pole and like the may pole it’s a big phallus to be honest. Most of them do however look like a big cross dressed in flowers and leafs (lots of people will also have flower wreaths on their heads). When it stands safely the music starts and people starts to dance around it. It’s mostly for the children but lots of adults participate too of course. Today the most popular song is called The little frogs and naturally all do special moves that follows the lyrics. It’s hard for old knees to jump like frogs 🙂 🙂 That song however, I read this morning, is actually a march the French soldiers used while practicing and had nothing what so ever to do with frogs. They think it was the British soldiers who when they wanted to mock the French soldiers changed the lyrics and compared the French soldiers with frogs 🙂 🙂
This coming night, short as it is, is full of magic. Beings are out moving around and this is the night to collect medicinal plants and the morning dew that was said to have extra strong healing powers. The morning dew was also perfect to use when fermenting bread and beer. It was impossible to fail if using it. It was also important to drink the dew if being sick because You would get better soon if You did. To walk barefoot in the morning dew also made sure to keep You strong and healthy all autumn and winter long too. Hidden magical treasures would show up tonight and if one was quiet while looking for them one could get rich but by making the tiniest sound the treasure would disappear for ever.
It was also very important to be absolutely quiet if one wanted to know who one was going to marry. Depending on where one lived one should collect seven or nine flowers while climbing over seven or nine fences around midnight. The flowers would then be placed beneath the pillow and during the night one would dream about the coming spouse. Another way to know the future was to sit by a cross-road or an earth-bound stone (not quite sure what that is to be honest) during the night and wait. But not all signs were good, there’s an old tale about three young girls sitting by a cross-road. One heard sounds from a forge, one heard sounds from church bells and one heard music from a violin. The first girl got married to a blacksmith, the third girl got married to a musician and the second girl heard the church bells from her own burial, she died within a year.
Tomorrow I thought I would tell You more about our magical beings, perhaps both nice and bad ones, we seems to have plenty of both 🙂 Tonight will not be a good night to walk around alone out by the bog I guess 🙂 Today will mostly be rather cold, perhaps not over 14C (57F) but this is the place to be if one wants sunshine. I live between the two big lakes and they’ll push away the clouds that mostly will cover the rest of the country. There will be snowfall up in the Swedish-Norwegian mountains but it will melt away pretty quick.
Tomorrow is Summer solstice but we always celebrate Midsummer eve the last Friday in the month of June. It’s no national holiday but almost all will be home from work anyway 🙂 It’s even a paid free day from work 🙂
Have a great day!