It's Midsummer's Eve, Sweden's biggest holiday of the year. Why are we reporting on Sweden? Our parent company's headquarters are in Stockholm, and I'm hoping that if we raise Midsummer awareness in the States, they'll give us the day off, too (wink, wink)!
Midsummer is an old celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It's also celebrated in Denmark, Norway and Finland. Because Scandinavia is so close to the North Pole, they experience "white nights", where the sun almost never sets. The adults feast on herring and drink loads of aquavit; the children make crowns of flowers and wear them while dancing and singing around a big, festively decorated maypole. It's pretty awesome, and I think we should start a campaign to celebrate it in the U.S., too. (We don't have nearly enough holidays in the summer.)
If you and your kids ever find yourself in Sweden for Midsummer (or if you just want to celebrate the holiday like a Swede), here's your toolkit for looking like a native:
- Learn a maypole song. If you can only remember one song, pick "Små Grodorna". It's a cute song about frogs and their comical lack of ears and tail. Lyrics and translation can be found here. Choreography matters -- remember to use your hands to mime the "no ears" and the "no tail" parts.
- Make a smörgåsbord. Alright, so you probably won't be able to get your kids to eat herring. But most kids would like Swedish meatballs, and some might even enjoy the sharp cheddar-like Västerbotten cheese, which you can buy at IKEA. And who doesn't love fresh strawberries at the end of June?
- Create a crown of flowers. Here is a video on how you and your kids can make your own crown of flowers. This is a celebration of summer, so use only wildflowers you can gather outdoors. When you're in Sweden, a law called Every Man's Right allows you to pick wildflowers (and mushrooms and berries) from anywhere (except for people's immediate front yards).
- Stay up with the sun. It's the longest day of the year. Let your kids stay up late to watch the sun go down. You can fit a little science lesson in about the solstice and why it marks the beginning of the summer.
What else do you celebrate in the summer, besides 4th of July?