Midsummer, the second most celebrated holiday in Sweden (With Christmas being number one.)
I have always loved midsummer. For me, it is “the Swedish of all Swedish.”
Growing up, I used to spend my summers at this little cabin in the woods that my family rented. A primitive little house without running water or electricity. It was great.
On the morning of midsummer’s eve, I would run out into the forest to pick a huge bouquet of wild flowers.
My dad would take my sister and I, down to where the maypole was kept. It was prepared with birch branches so it was just for us kids to add all our flowers.
This was such a fun tradition for me. Together with fiddlers and people dressed it traditional Swedish clothing, we marched down to the “dansbana”= outdoor stage & party place. I remember being so proud holding on to the maypole with one hand, walking next to my big sister.
My mom used to make clothes for us. For some reason she always made exactly the same outfits for both of us. I loooved it but my sister hated it. Midsummer was a bonus day for me, this was one of the very few days my sister would tolerate us being dressed alike. I remember our red skirts with white knee highs and white blouses. Smashing!!! I would wear that outfit any time I could. I even received my sisters hand-me-downs. Lucky, lucky…
When the maypole procession finally reached the “dansbana” = outdoors dance floor, the men positioned the maypole in the center. All night, people would dance around it and have fun. There was even a band playing. We call it “dance band music”. Really horrible if you ask me.
The grounds would have lot’s of food stands. For us kids, there were little fish ponds and things.
I really remember this being the most fantastic times ever. Lot’s of junky little toys from the fish pond, mosquito bites and full belly. Those were the days…
For midsummer, we would eat a lot of salmon and herring. It is very typical to put together a buffet or sampler plates.
I usually serve pickled herring, smoked salmon, boiled newly harvested potatoes (first of the year), some kind of cheese pie, a salad….. Of course we have our eggs and caviar on the table too.
This year, my midsummer would be sampler plates with;
Smoked salmon rolls;
Smoked salmon with a mixture of cream cheese, cut fresh dill, pepper, caviar and chives. All rolled up and cut into “sushi size”.
Pickled herring with boiled potatoes;
Since we don’t have the small fresh potatoes here, I just took regular potatoes and shaped them into little potato balls that I boiled with a pinch of salt and some fresh dill.
I made it easy for myself and bought the pickled herring from the grocery store. It used the one that comes in a vinegar sauce. It tastes just like the regular one I usually make. It is all about making it easy for one self.
Sour cream and caviar.
Caviar (fish eggs) can be bought in most grocery stores. Any color works.
Hard bread with a very sharp cheese.
Gruyère would be good.
A kind of deviled egg.
Hardboiled eggs with filling made of cut up hard-boiled eggs, sour cream, finely chopped red onion, a little anchovy (if you don’t have that, use anchovy paste), chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste.
My table size maypole. (Thanks to my sister I actually have two of them.)
This is from one of our Midsummer picknick’s. Lot’s of herring, caviar and miniature snaps bottles! Oops!!! What can I say, We do love our “snaps”.
The celebration of Midsummer dates back thousands of years, and the holiday’s pagan origins predate Christianity. As is the case with many modern holidays, the Catholic church co-opted Midsummer celebrations by associating the date of the solstice, called Midsummer’s Eve, with the birthday feast of John the Baptist. In 1953, the actual date of Midsummer Day was changed to be on the Saturday that falls between June 20 and 26. In Sweden and Finland, celebrants dance around a maypole, and celebratory bonfires are lit in Denmark, Norway and Finland. In all countries where Midsummer is celebrated, traditional food and drink are consumed.”