All you need to know about Midsummer, Sweden’s most popular festival

In Sweden, summers are short. It has to do its work quickly before the winter takes over again. On one of the longest days of the summer, the Swedes celebrate Midsummer – a festival dedicated to eating, dancing, drinking and pagan rituals. In agrarian times, Midsummer celebrations in Sweden were held to welcome the summertime and the season of fertility. Now it is just a good time to meet family and friends and indulge in some age-old traditions. This year the Midsummer will fall around 24 June (It usually is on a Friday between 19 June and 25 June.)

The Midsummer is the most important Swedish festival and most people celebrate it in the countryside for the fear of being left alone in the city. The feast is laden with traditional Swedish food and the heroes of the feast are pickled herring, sour cream, chives, eggs and freshly harvested potatoes.

 All you need to know about Midsummer, Sweden’s most popular festival

The Midsummer festival is celebrated on a Friday between 19 June and 25 June. This year it will be celebrated on 24 June. AFP

Traditional Swedish food or husmanskot cannot be compared with other sophisticated European cuisine, but it comprises of many contrasting tastes. It is largely made up of heavy portions of meat, fresh fruits and creamy sauces. Since a large portion of the country is surrounded by water (Baltic sea and Gulf of Bothnia), the Swedes are very attached to their fish. The pickled herring is a particular favourite during this season and the Swedes like to experiment with this dish. There have been instances of a ‘wasabi pickled herring’ but the most common are löksill (herring with onions), kryddsill(herring with spices) and senapsill (herring with mustard).

Most adults like to wash down the herring with schnapps (a shot of alcohol), usually preceded by a short, often quite silly schnapps song, of which there are plenty, passed on from generation to generation. The Swedish schnapps is distilled from grain or potato and is often flavoured.

The Swedes have a sweet tooth and no meal is complete without dessert. Strawberries and the lingonberries are quite popular in the summer and they are usually consumed in the form of cake or cream. The apple and rhubarb pies are also very popular dessert options in this festival.

On a side note, since the Midsummer was originally celebrated as a pagan festival, it is closely related to the fertility gods. The Midsummer night is light and considered to be magical. On that night the girls eat salted porridge (‘dream porridge’) so that their future husbands might bring water to them in their dreams to quench their thirst. Looks like we know where you are going to find your ideal husband.

The Midsummer is followed by The Crayfish party which is celebrated in August, but that is a tale for another time.

Updated Date: Jun 19, 2016 14:27:03 IST