Summer Solstice aka “midsommar”
Midsummer in Sweden could be argued as the most important Swedish holiday all year. It’s so important to the Swedes that they’ve considered having it as their national day instead of June 6th. Meant to celebrate the Solstice, the longest day of the year, it’s a time for the locals to gather up friends and family and party the not-so-dark night away.
Although it’s originally a pagan celebration mostly from Nordic countries, it’s celebrated by Christians as well and could be called St John’s Day and/or Eve after St John the Baptist. St John’s Eve is the celebration of the birth of John the Martyr and happens each year on June 24th. Conversely, Midsummer is meant as a celebration of the summer solstice and the marking of the longest day of the year and falls on a Friday between the 19th and 25th of June. Like Valborg, bonfires were lit back in the day to ward off evil spirits and witches were believed to have conspired during this time as well.
Today, Midsummer see’s a lot of Swedes beginning their 5 week vacation, so things tend to slow down. Kids are also usually on summer break by this time and smaller town’s can seem quite deserted for the weekend as people flock to the countryside if they’re able. Luckily here in Stockholm there are plenty of big parks and with over 18 hours of daylight and some pretty decent weather in Sweden, this means a full day of outdoor activities like brännboll (similar to baseball), kubb, dancing around maypoles and grilling food. With that being said you can expect to see many of Stockholm’s most popular parks like Rålis, Humlegården and Gärdet jam packed with people.
The food plays a huge role in a Swedish Midsummer, with everything from baby potatoes covered in butter and dill, to copious amounts of flavored pickled fish, eggs, salmon, grilled meat, cakes, wild strawberries and of course schnapps.
Lastly, the two most iconic things about Midsummer are the maypole and the flower wreaths. People of all ages and sizes tend to gather flowers early in the morning of midsummer to weave into wreaths to put as decorations on the maypole and in their hair. The maypole is placed in an open spot like a field or park and stands a few meters tall. There’s usually some ribbons or rope that hangs down which kids hold on to as they dance around the maypole.
Also take note everyone – the Tower will be COMPLETELY closed all day Friday 23rd (Midsummer’s Eve) and the restaurant will be closed on Saturday 24th (Midsummer Day), BUT the Tower (gift shop and café) will be open from 11:00 to 18:00!