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Midsummer in Sweden: From Origins to Traditions

|February 14, 2022

Want to be a part of the oldest and most popular celebrations in Sweden? Midsummer it is! We have curated this exclusive travel guide with everything you need to know about midsummer celebrations in Sweden.


From the best places to celebrate to local cuisine, we have got everything covered. This cherished tradition involves dancing, singing, and loads of food. No matter which part of Sweden you might be in, celebrations happen everywhere.

Midsummer celebration in Sweden

Traditional Swedish midsummer celebration called Midsommar

The Swedes know how to party, and we mean it. They have a very unique style of making every celebration their own, especially when it comes to national festivals. Celebrating the summer solstice is a big deal for the Swedes, and they do it right. Let's take a look at some history before we jump right into the midsummer traditions.

What is Midsummer?

Midsummer, meaning summer solstice, or right in the middle of summer, literally, dates back to the agrarian days of Sweden when midsummer was celebrated to welcome summertime and the season of fertility.

women wearing wreaths during Midsummer celebration

Women wearing flower wraths during Midsummer celebration in Sweden

Another explanation given by Sweden's Nordic Museum suggests that these celebrations were to commemorate the birthday of John the Baptist on the 24th of June. Most Swedes don't know the real reason behind the celebrations; for them, it is a folk tradition that combines food, dance, and party.

On the 21st of June, the summer solstice happens, and on that day every 7th year, Midsummer eve occurs. The history and origin of these festivals date back thousands of years ago. As for the most important part, today, this celebration for most Swedes has become a way to reconnect with their traditions and the agrarian heritage.

When is Midsummer?

The Midsummer date in Sweden is an officially declared holiday that is celebrated every year on a Saturday that falls between June 20th to 26th. In 2022, June 25th is the day Swedish celebrations of midsummer will kick start. This fun celebration of the summer solstice lasts for over three days, where people gather and party into the summer nights.

Midsummer Events to Cherish

People dancing during Midsummer celebration in Sweden

Raising of a midsummer pole during a a traditional celebration of Swedish midsummer, Skara

The celebrations start around noon when friends and family members gather for a picnic. In the park they choose, there will be a tall maypole right in the middle. The festivities begin with a dance around the pole, also known as Midsommarstången, wearing traditional dress. Slowly, everyone at the picnic joins the dance.

Table setting with traditional Swedish dishes

Table setting for midsummer party

After that, it's all about relishing some good food, which is considered to be the best food of the year for most Swedes. The celebration doesn't end there, it continues into the wee hours of the evening with drinks, games, more dancing, and good food.

At the peak of dance celebrations, Swedes switch their moves to frog dance, hopping around the maypole while singing a local classical tune that describes frogs in vivid detail, also known as Små grodorna.

Food is a crucial part of their celebrations; you'll find gravlax or salmon, potatoes with dill, sour cream and chives, and pickled herring amongst many other delicacies. When it comes to drinks, look out for elderflower, lemon, or herb-flavored snaps.



Best Places to Celebrate Midsummer in Sweden

If you have been invited by a local to celebrate midsummer with them, don't miss the opportunity. As a traveler, it is your opportunity to experience a midsummer festival at its best. It not only pulls the community together, but you also get to experience the local culture and traditions.

Dalarna

nature during summer in Dalarna county

Northern Europe Sweden Dalarna Leksand

The best place to celebrate midsummer is in Dalarna. This picturesque region is set in a perfect backdrop of sweeping green hills and flower meadows. As a part of the celebrations, you'll get to witness the Church boat race in Lake Siljan. The procession of wooden longboats happens for all 10 days at different locations throughout Lake Siljan.

While you are there, don't forget to spend some time exploring the town too. The traditional villages, museums, and forest hikes will make your travel an extra special one.

Bohuslän Coast

Houses by the canal in West Coast Sweden

Grundsund, Bohuslän province, in the west coast of Sweden

Around Gothenburg and the Bohuslän coast, the archipelago of 3000 or so midnight-sun islands is worth your time. Besides being a part of the grandest solstice celebrations, we recommend you explore Gothenburg and plan island hopping before you complete your journey.

From discovering the majestic Neoclassical architecture to strolling through the oldest neighborhoods of Gothenburg, this spectacular town has so much to offer.

Relish Local Food during Midsummer

Herring and potatoes traditional Swedish dish

Sill, färskpotatis och jordgubbar - Herring and potatoes traditional Swedish dish.

Celebrating midsummer is not just about dancing and singing; it is also about bringing people together to bond over tradition and food. If you are a foodie, you'll get to try all the local delicacies in one go. Here are some dishes you'll find at the celebrations:

  1. Sill, also known as herring, and Strömming, which is Baltic herring

  2. Nypotatis, a kind of potatoes served with dill

  3. Gravlax, also known as cured or grilled salmon

  4. Västerbottenpaj, a delicious variety of cheese pie

  5. Ägg, which are eggs

  6. Jordgubbstårta eller jordgubbar, mouth watering strawberry cake

Apart from these, you'll also find, marinated cucumbers with dill, savory pickled herring cake, grilled veggies and knäckebröd.

When in Sweden, midsummer is a fun time to explore the country and experience authenticity. It is also your opportunity to discover everything local that this stunning Scandinavian land has to offer.

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