Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to have a Swedish Midsommar
First, take a country full of people who have long cold dark winters, and wet unpredictable spring times.

The weather in Sweden is such that even babies have their own rain suit. On arrival in Dalarna for midsommar, we had the fleece and rain suits at hand.
Perhaps the sun will come out, tomorrow, tomorrow.....
And then, suddenly, let the sun shine 17 hours a day and have the world come alive with colorful fields of flowers. Make the national symbol, the flag, a representation of the sun in the sky. Take a deep breath and breathe in the smell the lilacs give off in the sunshine. Then find one of the many wild open fields of flowers and pick bouquets for the tables, wreaths for your head, and some for decorating the village midsommar pole. This will be easy, as the flowers will be creating bright bursts of color everywhere.
So many kinds of flowers.....
The first roses may just open on Midsommar day as if they are showing up on time for the party
If you are lucky, the Lupine will be in bloom
And the Lilacs still ready to add their fragrance and color to your efforts
You should pick extra buttercups to hang upside to dry, as they will keep their color and add a nice bright touch when the other flowers have faded
Then you should head into the forest with your saw and select some birch saplings. You need ones just about as tall as your doorway. This will be no problem as there are more trees than people in Sweden, and there are plenty of 3 to 6 year old birches to use for this purpose, the forest will appreciate being thinned out a bit.
Have some fun while sawing
Drag your cut trees home
Get buckets full of water and place them near the corners of the house and doorways.
Fill then with the birch saplings, using twine ot keep them up if you need to.
Tie them to your porch posts
And celebrate hanging out with your family
Later, take a walk to the village and bring your bouquets for the maypole.
Help cover the pole with birch saplings and wildflowers. The birches branches will be stripped from the trunk with a knife, and then twisted into a garland by strong hands. The men will do this and drink some beer.
The children will bring birch branches to help cover the rings and wreathes that will be suspended from the poles, while the ladies make it look good.
The birches will cover a wire frame Make sure there are enough flowers tied on to the pole so it looks really colorful and festive. Use twine to get the flowers on the birch garland covered rings. Generally, you will enjoy this whole process more if you speak Swedish.
Then go home and have your midsommar meal. Appropriate food would be sill (pickled herring), the newest first potatoes that are just ready to be harvested, peeled and boiled with lots of fresh dill. And some salmon, knackebrod and cheese, and butter, and snapps, vodka, and other drinks. Have some fladersaft- elder berry flower drink on hand for the children and non drinkers to join in your toasts. Sing drinking songs when you drink your snapps.
Head back down to the village for the maypole raising, and enjoy the fiddlers and live traditional music.
Watch while the pole is raised with wooden poles inch by inch by a band of men. Make jokes about getting it up, and realize you are participating in a germanic pagan tradition that is thousands of years old that honors the glory of summer, sun, and fertility. Ponder that the gods of fertility must be well pleased by all this, as they reward Swedes with 9 months each (18 months total) of paternity and maternity leave for each of their children. Realize one of the few countries that can dance around a phallic pole with balls also offers the best deal for the working fathers in the whole world.

Enjoy watching the kids run around and play while this goes on
The local dignitary, who may be only the high school principle if you are in a really small town, will give a speech. Then a jolly lady will call the children near, and circle dances will begin. Familiar songs like Små Groda, the little frog song where you hop like a frog, will be sung with accompanying dance moves. Other songs about washing and ironing your clothes to get ready for church, and playing music with various instruments will be sung.

This song is 'The Fox runs over the Ice' and it sings about a little old lady who knits, a little old man who snuffs snuff, a whiny cry baby, and then a laughing silly Olle.


Afterwards, head into the community house for fika, coffee and buns, and enjoy more fiddler music and hope you win something form the raffle that benefits the maintenance of the public house you are in.
Enjoy that summer has finally really come, as it is short and spectacular.

4 comments:

Rose said...

Wow.

Three cheers for pagan celebrations!!

lornadoone1972 said...

Fabulous, fabulous - gorgeous maypole - and Miss Iris looks great in her little hair buns and flowery outfit - oh how I miss my English summers and pagan rituals... I have a client here and one of the staff is called Prudy Pagan - the most hilarious name... and do those 2 go together?! :)

Liquid Pen said...

I especially love the maypole princess!

kollene carlsson said...

MY GOSH... I smiled the entire time reading this! This is fantastic beautiful marvelous! These pics belong in a book! That shot of the buttercup with the sun peeking through ... it gave me goosebumps! I love it! and the Lupine is wowowow! and the festivities are so fun... what a life you have here Heidi... you lucky girl you!!!