Travels with my Art

Paintings and Photographs inspired by Travels Around the World

Swedish Summertime – and the living is easy

Dreaming of lazy summer afternoons on the banks of Lake Mälaren in Sweden.

Dreaming of lazy summer afternoons on the banks of Lake Mälaren in Sweden.

One of the things I learnt about Swedish people in the three years that I lived there, is that they really know how to really enjoy the summertime.
In a country that is cold and dark for much of the year, celebrating the sun is of the utmost importance. So come June, tens of thousands of Swedes abandon towns and cities and head to the coastal islands, inland lakes, vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains, for weeks of rest and relaxation.
And it is not uncommon to find everything shut down for an entire month, usually in July, while everybody takes their “industerial vactation”.
But it is not just the relaxing, it is the celebrations that come with summer which, like the summer daylight hours in Sweden, seem neverending.

The celebrations start with Valborg (Walpurgis Night) on April 30th, where everybody gathers outside to ignite hazardously large bonfires, sing songs and greet Spring.
Valborg Bonfire in Ekbacken, Åkersberga Sweden.

Valborg Bonfire in Ekbacken, Åkersberga Sweden.

And people can really let their hair down as the following day is a public holiday, May Day, celebrated by the Swedish labour movement with demonstrations and political speeches. Since  Ascension Day, occurs on a Thursday, the subsequent Friday is known as klämdag, “squeezed day”, and is taken off from work by many Swedish people. Next comes Swedish National Day on June 6th, also known as the Day of the Swedish Flag.
The most important event for the Swedish calendar is Midsummer (or midsommar). Pickled herring, boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives, salmon and the first strawberries for the summer for dessert all washed down with brännvin. After eating all this, if you are up to it, there is dancing round the maypole and yet more singing (and drinking too).

Kräftpremiär  is a crayfish party, held in early August, and is the last of the traditional summertime festivals.

A month off work, fantastic fresh food, wild swimming, lazing around in the sun and all-day (and sometimes all-night) parties… I think I may be on the next flight back – Hej då.
Alliums on the banks of Åkers Canal in Åkersberga, Sweden.

Alliums on the banks of Åkers Canal

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  1. Natasha April 8, 2013 — Post Author

    Love this Ali; there’s a real sense of openness and relaxation, a need for others balanced by being at peace in the countryside

    • alidunnell April 28, 2013 — Post Author

      Thanks Tash, glad you like it… The Swedes certainly have a good balance of the work hard play hard approach to life.

  2. lenalimhamn January 12, 2017 — Post Author

    Ha! Sååå sant! Sooo true!

  3. Embla Ester January 13, 2017 — Post Author

    Haha! This Swede can confirm all of this! The painting in the top, of the beach, is really spot on!

  4. swansea historic family stories by diane heddon February 8, 2017 — Post Author

    Ali, I heard that everyone lives for Summer there,,,very much like Wales [smiles] Did the Mayday start/ originate in Sweden I wonder?’ lovely art work pictures the blue very exiting too!. regards Diane.

    • Ali Dunnell February 8, 2017 — Post Author

      Thank Diane… yes the Swedes do live for the summer. I actually really love Wales too (my maiden name was Davies, and my dad was Welsh) so I spent much of my childhood on holidays near Bangor-on-Dee.

  5. thatkenyanwanderer October 9, 2017 — Post Author

    Such a well written post! Love all the photos, too!

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