Summer seems so far away now, but as I was on a bit of a blogging break at the time, I still have some catching up to do. Midsummer here is so lovely that I wanted to share it with you 🙂 Midsummer in Sweden comes quickly after the schools finish in mid June, kick-starting the summer holidays with a festive feel. Everything in nature has suddenly burst into a riot of colour, very fast after the long winter, and the sun doesn’t set in parts of the country. It is truly a time to celebrate, and celebrate in style. Although, having chatted to our new friends around our island, it isn’t uncommon to be serving your midsummer meal courses between random rain showers, and indeed it doesn’t seem it would be a true midsummer’s without them, but you MUST still eat outdoors, or else you aren’t really doing it properly!
So, what does a midsummer celebration consist of? Firstly, towns are deserted and everything is shut….this is a serious business…and everyone heads off into the countryside to party. So, we embraced our new culture and got immersed in this festival. We put our best outfits on and headed off to watch a pole being raised (similar to a Maypole in the UK) in a large open space with hundreds of people turning up with their picnics (with of course lots of coffee), to watch the dancing, and to take part too. Oh, and don’t forget to put a garland of flowers in your hair.
After the dancing, there is some serious eating to be done. A typical Midsummer menu consists of varying types of pickled herring, boiled potatoes, dill, sour cream, and chives. This is often followed by some cooked meat or fish, and for dessert there is the famous strawberry cake. We took the framework of a typical meal and tampered with it slightly! We had a buffet style lunch going on 🙂 The pickled herring was there, but there was also smoked gammon, shrimps, smoked salmon, warm bread rolls, fresh dill, meatballs, pickled gherkins, boiled eggs, and potato salad. We then followed this up with a very tasty strawberry cake. I had followed a Swedish recipe, and I’m now hooked! I’m not a great fan of creamy cakes like this, but the midsummer one had me re-evaluating my opinions! It was so tasty and you can find out how to make this delicious strawberry cake . This was all washed down with beer, wine, aquavit (a very strong spirit with a rather large kick to it!), and home made elderflower cordial for the little people. Our little gathering would have been rather quiet compared to the Swedes’, who as they drink up enjoy singing songs, and the racier the better…but we don’t know any…..yet!
After your meal, it is time for more dancing…..I think we just laid down and felt a little sick! The dancing continues on late into the night, and on the way home there is an old folklore, that if girls and women collect 7 different types of flowers and sleep with them under their pillows, that night their future husband will appear to them in their dreams 🙂 I really enjoyed this celebration, and I am looking forward to next year’s knowing a little more what to expect (for instance we shall have a picnic at the Maypole).