100 Days of Summer Local Culture

Midsummer – a Swedish celebration of the summer solstice


Midsummer, also known as the summer solstice, is a time of year celebrated for centuries by cultures worldwide. This day marks the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It is also considered a magical night and the start of the fertility season. The celebration of Midsummer has roots in ancient pagan traditions and has since been adopted by various religions and cultures. And one of the countries that love to celebrate it is Sweden, where Midsummer (called “Midsommar”) is one of the most important holidays of the year.

When is Midsummer celebrated?

Midsummer Eve is always celebrated on the Friday between 19 and 25 June. That means this year, Midsummer Eve will be on Friday, 23 June. Most of the celebrations and festivities take place on the eve night.

READ MORE: Swedish Midsummer Cake with Strawberries and Cream (Midsommartårta)


Midsummer pagan origins

The origins of Midsummer celebrations can be traced back to pagan times. In many cultures, the festival was held to celebrate the sun’s power and summer’s arrival. The festival was also used to honor the gods and goddesses of nature, who were believed to have the power to bring fertility to the land and ensure a bountiful harvest. It was customary to light bonfires and dance around them in celebration.

READ MORE: Spring Traditions from Around the World

The pagan festival of Midsummer was eventually adopted by the Christian church, who named it St. John’s Day after John the Baptist. The day is still celebrated by some Christian denominations, particularly in Europe and South America.

Midsummer in Sweden – how do Swedes celebrate Midsummer?

In Sweden, Midsummer is one of the most important holidays of the year. It also marks the beginning of the holiday season and is a good occasion for seeing family and friends. Most of the celebrations are happening in the countryside, where everybody is going the night before Midsummer.


Swedes celebrate by decorating maypoles with flowers and leaves and dancing around them while singing traditional songs. Maypoles are usually raised in an open spot in the center of the village or town and decorated with flower wreaths and leaves. The raising of the pole is accompanied by traditional folk music and dance, symbolizing fertility and the coming of summer. Dressing up in traditional costumes is another way of celebrating Midsummer in Sweden. Women wear white dresses with flower wreaths on their heads, and men wear traditional costumes with hats and boots.

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Another essential aspect of Midsummer celebrations is the food. Swedes prepare a range of traditional dishes, including pickled herring, boiled potatoes, and meatballs. The most popular dish is the Midsummer strawberry cake, which is a delicious dessert made with fresh strawberries and cream. The food is usually accompanied by beer and schnapps, which are an essential part of the festivities.

Strawberry cake

In addition to the food and costumes, Midsummer is also a time for games and activities. One of the most popular games is the egg race, where participants race with an egg on a spoon. Another popular game is tug of war, where teams compete to pull a rope across a line. The activities are a fun way for Swedes to connect with each other and enjoy the outdoors.

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