Travels with my Art

Paintings and Photographs inspired by Travels Around the World

Flowers, frolics and frogs – Midsummer in Sweden

Wild flowers in your hair, pickled herring and people jumping like frogs around a huge maypole means it must be Midsummer.

Midsummer, also known as the summer solstice, is the longest day of the year. In Sweden Midsummer, Midsommar in Swedish, is one of the biggest festivals of the year. On June 20th everything shuts down, there is a mass exodus from Sweden’s cities. People head for the countryside to start their annual month-long summer holiday.

Midsummer – My favourite Swedish Celebration 

Midsummer is my favourite Swedish celebration because the day just doesn’t seem to end. The day goes on and on and on and when it finally does end, it never really gets dark and there is a magical twilight. There are even places in the north of the country the sun doesn’t even set. Where we live in Stockholm today the sun came up at 3.32 and is due to set at 22.06 – giving us 18 hours and 34 minutes of daylight.

The main day for festivities is June 21st, known as Midsommarafton or Midsummer Eve. On this day people bind birch wreaths and decorate them with wild flowers, then gather together friends and family. Some go to community gatherings where they raise a leafy maypole then dance around it.

The maypole is said to be a symbol of fertility and I suppose with its erect shaft and two round circles at the top does look rather phallic!

Today’s Midsummer frolics 

Today we celebrated Midsummer at Bruket Görvälns naturreservat in Järfälla. First we went for a swim in Lake Mälaren.

Then we had a picnic while others danced around the maypole, singing songs.


The Small Frog Midsummer song 

The most famous of the traditional Swedish songs is Small Frogs Små Grodorna, where people hop jump and waggle ears and tails.

The lyrics are rather bizarre and I love it:

The hippest of the jumpers                 Den hippaste av hopparna 
Who lives in Mora Träsk                    Som bor i Mora Träsk 
It’s a little frog                                      Det är en liten groda 
Which is possible and grotesque       Som är mullig och grotesk 
Because he has no ears                       För han har inga öron 
And he was born without a tail         Och han föddes utan svans 
In the summer night you hear him   I sommarnatten hör man honom 
Small frogs, small frogs                      Små grodorna, små grodorna 
Are funny to see                                   Är lustiga att se 
Not ears, not ears                                Ej öron, ej öron 
They do not have tails                         Ej svansar hava de 
A Midsummer Swedish smörgåsbord

Afterwards we came home to a Swedish smörgåsbord of smoked salmon, dill potatoes, pickled herring (senap sill and dill sill), knäckebröd, sour cream with horseradish, barbecued chicken legs, salad. For dessert I made a strawberry and raspberry pavlova and even brought squirty cream, which caused a great deal of excitement. As I am teetotaler I had to swap the traditional snaps for elderflower cordial, not as much fun, but a lot less messy.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  

Like Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ magic is in the air for Sweden’s Midsommarefton. According to legend, if a girl picks seven kinds of flowers and puts them under her pillow on Midsummer Eve,  it is said that she will dream about the person she will marry.

After 15 years with my soul mate Mark, I don’t need to put any flowers under my pillow.  But you could always give it a go, you never know what you might dream of, hopefully it won’t be Bottom.

As an extra special we set a tent up in the garden so if they want to tonight, for Midsummer, our kids can sleep outside.

Glad Midsommar och Godnatt
Sleeping in a tent on a Midsummer Night's Eve

Sleeping in a tent on a Midsummer Night’s Eve


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  1. Åsa Hallström June 22, 2019

    Fantastic description of a Swedish Midsummer!

  2. thewonderer86 June 22, 2019

    It really sounds quite magical.

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