mahabis guide // how to celebrate midsummer the scandinavian way
When your winters are long and dark, celebrating the height of summer to the full is the natural thing to do. Midsummer is one of the most anticipated festivals of the year across Scandinavia, with people of all ages gathering to celebrate the longest day of the year. Across Sweden, Midsummer’s Eve is always celebrated on a Friday, providing a day’s holiday for everyone as the entire country unites to relax, unwind and celebrate.
Although Midsummer is celebrated with slight varieties across Northern Europe, it is in Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden where celebrations are most prominent. The brief lease of summer is enjoyed to the full, with celebrations stretching on into the long days. From legendary Norwegian fishing celebrations to hikes across the fjords, and meandering road trips in the mountains, Scandi-summers are not to be missed.
photo: forsand, norway, by alexey topolyanskiy
Midsummer’s Eve and Midsummer’s Day are seen as national days of celebration in Sweden, with the majority of people retreating from the cities to celebrate in the countryside or on the archipelagos. Old traditions are embraced, including dancing around the midsommarstång (may pole), listening to folk music, and wearing national dress. Women adorn their hair with krans (flower garlands), picnics are planned, and the days end with bonfires. Finland, Norway and Denmark also celebrate Midsummer with similar festivities involving flowers, food, folk music and fires.
Midsummer is one of the best times of year to visit Scandinavia, to get a taste of the local culture and to join in with the celebrations. However, if you can’t jet off to Sweden, you can still enjoy your own celebrations, wherever you are. Midsummer is all about letting loose, unwinding and forgetting your worries.
photo: stockholm, jon ottosson
Try to escape to the countryside, or at least to a park or green space. Head onto the highway and take a roadtrip. Most Scandinavians leave the cities during the Midsummer celebrations, as a significant part of the festivities involves getting closer to and appreciating nature.
Prepare a picnic and eat outdoors with family and friends. Traditional Midsummer feasts include seasonal and local foods such as fish, berries, bread and cheese and are always eaten outdoors. Eat on the ground upon blankets in a local park, or create a sophisticated gathering in your garden by moving your dining furniture outdoors for the occasion. The meal should be a social occasion, lasting several hours and punctuated by laughter and conversation.
photo: pavan trikutam
Light a fire in the evening. You may not be able to construct a huge bonfire akin to those built for Midsummer celebrations across Scandinavia, but light a small fire in your garden, or huddle around the BBQ when night begins to fall. Keep the drinks flowing, food-refilled, and leave some blankets outdoors, so you can huddle up (we love cable knit design from Dot & Tom). After all, the Danish concept of hygge isn't just for winter.