5 Odd Midsummer Traditions for the Uninitiated Foreigner

Midsummer {Midsommar}, was this past Friday. It is a national holiday hailed as the first day of summer and a reason to eat fish and get wasted.

It is also, for the uninitiated, a very crazy day. I didn’t want to spoil the fun for those of you who celebrated your first midsommar this past weekend, so I waited until today to share the list of crazy things Swedes do at the festivities.

When I celebrated my first midsummer in Sweden, I really had no idea what to expect. I had been warned though that the Swedes will drink a lot, eat a lot, and sing a lot. What I was not prepared for, was passing out after four shots of nubbe {aquavit} because the cowboy doctor (he was a Swedish doctor with a cowboy hat) claimed I need proper initiation.

And then, I passed out for thirty minutes, only to awake to people still singing and drinking!

Of course later on, we danced and danced, played games, and ate some more.

From that experience and those over the years, here is my list of five strange things Swedes do. And, believe me, you’ll enjoy them once you get over the shock!

1. Sing about frogs – That’s right, you dance around a phallic symbol and dance like frogs. If you have not performed this tradition, you have not had a proper midsommar.

2. Dance around a phallic object – So the cross made from leaves, branches, and flowers represent the penis and the two round hoops represent, well, balls. As in most pagan customs, the phallic symbol represents fertility and strength. Cheers to fertile froggies!

3. Taste every type of pickled herring ever made – Mustard herring, onion herring, garlic herring, sour cream herring, spiced herring, dill herring, mixed herring, and on the list goes!

4. Sing all the time – For that matter, midsummer seems to be the day that Swedes not only get outdoors, but they get out their vocal chords. You sing to toast, you sing to eat, you sing to drink, you sing to eat, you sing to toast, you sing to dance. You SING!!! If you have a terrible voice, this is probably the time to mindlessly mumble to yourself since chances are, you don’t know the words to the songs anyway.

5. Seven flowers – Actually I think this is rather sweet. Collect seven different flowers and place them under your pillow. It is said you will dream about your future spouse. All the single ladies find some flowers.

There are plenty of delicious strawberries for dessert and silly songs to be had, but the Swedish midsommar is by far a fun and happy holiday. If you want to have your own midsummer at home, it is easy too, check out my post on DIY midsummer.

Do you have a strange tradition during midsommar? We would love to hear about it!

1 thought on “5 Odd Midsummer Traditions for the Uninitiated Foreigner”

  1. I wish I had read this post before experiencing my first midsummer this weekend! I really thought my boyfriend and his friends had lost their minds… ;-))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *