I have borrowed this photograph from Göinge Halmslöjd (if You click on the name You´ll come to their web site. If You click on Produkter when You get there they show what they can do). This is some variations in how midsummer poles can look like.

Today is one of the most important holidays we have here in Sweden, Midsummer. To be honest that was a couple of days ago but they changed the holiday to the first weekend after the real thing. For some reason I really don´t know it´s always the eve´s that are the big days here. Christmas (or Yule as we call it), easter and midsummer and it´s the eve we celebrate.

The old root cellar. Wish it was mine.

I think this is a falcon of some kind. a rather big one. But it was to far away to get a good photograph of it.

This is a tradition the christian churches always tried to change from a pagan holiday to a christian but they have always failed 🙂 They know that 500 A.C they had big celebrations here in the north around midsummer. Back then they celebrated fertility and this was the big day for the viking fertility gods Frei (male) and Freia (female). I don´t think You need a specially dirty mind to figure out what they were doing while celebrating 🙂 🙂 Back then they had huge bonfires but that later on changed to the Midsummer pole instead.

Valeriana is very common here. Do things right and You have a mild sleeping drug, do it wrong and You never wake up again.

The midsummer pole looks much like a big cross dressed in flowers but is really a phallus 🙂 🙂 Now days we celebrate it a bit different (even though there are an awful lots of kids being born after nine months now days as well 🙂  ). Around noon they start to dance around the midsummer pole. This is mostly for the children of course and they sing merry little songs like “The little frogs, the little frogs are so funny to see. No ears, no ears no tails they have.” It´s a strange little song in swedish but it´s even more strange when translating it to english 🙂 🙂 🙂 Another merry little song is “The priests little crow wanted to go for a ride, no one he had to drive him” This continues with the crow deciding to drive himself and ends up in a ditch 🙂 🙂 🙂 Naturally everyone dancing also moves in special ways to the songs 🙂

After singing and dancing eating is on the list. Pickled herring in all variations is most popular. I can´t for my life understand how anyone can eat it but I am amongst the few 🙂 New potatoes boiled with dill is also one of the most important things we eat. I almost forgot the sour cream with chives, that is a must for me anyway.

Midsummer has always been seen as a very magical period and especially the night. Tonight lots of girls (and young women and perhaps a couple of men too) will pich seven (some places nine) different flowers to put under their pillow. While picking them they have to climb over seven (some places nine) fences and be absolutely quiet during this time (some places You had to be quiet until You went to bed and fell asleep). If they manage to do this they will be dreaming of the man they´ll marry (or at least spend some time in life with, very few really can make a marriage last any longer time now days 🙂 🙂 🙂 )

Elderberry tree, the one that can be used to make lemonade. I know of two species that one can do lemonade from but from what I know the rest are toxic for us humans.

Morning dew is especially important to collect tomorrow morning, because it can cure any disease according to old folk lore. I´ve never tried it so I don´t know if it´s true though 🙂 It´s also said that if You mix in this dew when You bake bred You can´t fail, but that would be a waste if one hasn´t a couple of gallons of morning dew 🙂  🙂 But there were other ways to cure illness especially on midsummer night. My mormor (grandmother on my mothers side) told me how they dragged her through a forked branch during midnight at midsummer when she was a baby. She was born with a heart disease and her parents ( or at least her mother, because it is said her grandmother was a gipsy, something most in my family never speaks of. Well except for me then, I would be proud if I was a gipsy descendant ). She never got rid of her disease but came to be 85 years old anyway 🙂

Nepeta sibirica. We call it Big dragon flower here.


Peonies is something one should stay away from this day according to folklore, because if You smelled the flower You could get cancer!? Back then they thought that cancer sort of lived in peonies. So to stop any ignorant of this important fact they could put paper cones over the flower so no one could smell it 🙂

I won´t be doing anything of these things today. For the first time I´ve said no to all midsummer parties and will stay at home. Well I´ll be eating something special of course but I haven´t decided what yet 🙂 I had planned to continue with my pond area but the wind is nasty cold and the sun only appears now and again. I think I´ll take a nap instead 🙂 Have a great day!

Well I had to end with seven flowers today so You women can have them under Your pillow 🙂 🙂 This is called Sweet William in english, we call it brush carnation.


24 thoughts on “Midsummer.

  1. hi christer! i love hearing these stories. they are so interesting. you sure have a lot of pagan customs left in your culture. do people build their own poles in their yards? do you ever see any of them when you drive to work. i would love to see photos of them but maybe no one is allowed to photograph them. i neve got the pickled herring/rollmops thing either. but, my family could never get enough of them. they love that stuff. joyce

    • Hi Joyce!
      They never really managed to christianize us totally 🙂 🙂 Many does build their own poles and I´ve built plenty. It´s said that if one takes it down before autumn bad luck will follow for the rest of the year 🙂 Most people doesn´t care about that though but if I have one it stays up 🙂

      I´ll try to remember taking a photograph when I see one next time. I think I know where one stands for quite some time after midsummer. It´s very much allowd to photograph them but I seem to delet every one I ever photograph 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I just can´t understand how anyone can eat pickled herring, but over here it´s a standard thing to eat at every big holiday and all summer long as well 🙂 🙂

      Have a great day!

  2. Trevlig midsommar önskar vi dig och alla hundar. Själva tar vi det med ro, idag har vi rensat ogräs, klippt allt gräs för sjuttioelfte gången sen vi kom hem. Fruarna kommer imorrn så då blire lite mera festligt, men hoppa några grodor vara många år sedan. Däremot ska jag absolut äta matjesill, vet du på macka med kall potatis o gräddfil är det bara så superdupergott. Nu väntar en dusch och en siesta.
    Kram LjusneLotta & Co

    • Tjänare Lotta!
      Här ärlite för kallt för att man skall vilja göra något ute idag, dessutom kommer det lite dugg och rapporter om kraftigt regn hörs söderöver. Så jag kommer att ta det väldigt lugnt idag 🙂

      Njä, inlagd sill kan inte bli gott tyvärr 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Ha det gott och trevlig midsommar!

  3. Vi tar det lugnt också. Efter att ha klippt allt gräs – det regnade ju i går natt så det har växt otroligt – så är vi nu inne för att se F1-träningen och sen vila oss lite innan vi åker till goda vänner här i Eksta och äter middag. Men…matjeasill älskar jag, med massor av gräslök och gräddfil och färsk potatis. Rolle däremot äter endast vanlig inlagd sill, men jag vet att han ska få det. Sen blir det inkokt lax och så nån god jordgubbsefterrätt. Det är ju midsommar!

    • Hejsan Susie!
      Ja ni har ju haft det så torrt att gräset reagerar direkt. Här är det så blött nu att inget speciellt händer alls 🙂 🙂

      Inlagd sill går bara inte, men stemt är hur gott som helst 🙂 Resten av det du nämner är dock perfekt 🙂

      Ha en trevlig midsommar!

  4. Hi Christer,
    Great stuff about how you celebrate Midsummer. I want to make a Midsummer pole just to mystify my neighbors. Thanks for the 7 (or 9) virtual flowers but it would be uncomfortable to sleep with my laptop under my pillow. I would try to collect actual flowers but it would be really difficult to climb 7 (forget about 9!) of those 8 foot high stockade fences that we have around here and it would be impossible for me to remain quiet while doing so. 😀
    I have tasted some version of pickled herring with sour cream. I don’t remember it being particularly horrid but I have never tasted it again. New potatoes with dill, salmon with new peas; those are very good.
    Google Translate tip for changing Swedish to English: if Google refuses to translate a Swedish word to English, break the Swedish word into parts that look logical. If that doesn’t work, start moving letters around.
    Have a good Midsummer!

    • Hi Caryn!
      🙂 🙂 🙂 I think I would have very much the same problems climbing over those fences and to keep quiet at the same time. Most fences here are also made of barbed wire 🙂 🙂 🙂

      I wonder what Your neighbors would think if they saw a midsummer pole in Your garden 🙂 🙂

      Potatoes with dill and salmon is sooo much better 🙂 It´s the feeling of eating raw fish I dislike the most with pickled herring I think.

      Swedish is different in that way that we have very long words. Like for instance honey bee becomes honungsbi (honeybee) If we do separate a word it can start to mean something completely else 🙂 🙂 Yesterday I saw an add where they are selling labrador puppies black. In swedish You have to put all those words together since they had separated all words the add said that they sold labradors, puppies and blacks, not quite what they meant 🙂

      have a great day!

      • I see what you mean. Apparently Google Translate doesn’t understand the grammar part because it just doesn’t translate those combined words. Slappardag doesn’t translate unless I break it into slappar and dag and then it comes out relaxing day. The word you used for lilacs translated into “oxygen trees” until I broke it up and then it became lilacs. Beksrivning didn’t translate at all but “scrivener” is an old English word for writer so I tried switching the letters and it translated as “description” which is close enough. I love Google Translate. It’s so much fun! 😀 😀 😀

      • Google does mess things up sometimes in the most hilarious ways 🙂 🙂 I love oxygen trees 🙂 🙂 🙂
        Another word that gets funny if You break it down in parts is our word for cashiers, That is kassapersonal in swedish. But if You split the words kassa and personal it becomes our crappy staff 🙂 🙂 🙂


  5. Happy Midsummer to you, Christer! Great post with summery photos, and very interesting folk lore. Funny how some customs survive, even if they don’t make sense!! Enjoy your special meal and have fun with the family!!

    • Hi Robin!
      It´s much the same with all our big holidays, we really hold on to our pagan past even if the church really have tried to do the opposite 🙂 🙂

      I do like that these things still are around even if they sometimes are a bit strange 🙂

      I´m home by myself and with my dogs and I´m enjoying it to the fullest 🙂

      Have a great day!

  6. Här har vi ätit matjesill, mums:)) Plockat blommor har jag också gjort fast jag satte mina i en vas och inte under kudden, jag har redan min drömprins:)) Trevlig midsommar på dig/Monne

    • Tjänare monne!
      Har inte gjort något av dem, vet faktiskt inte om jag gjort något alls idag 🙂 🙂

      ha en trevlig fortsättning på midsommar!

    • Hi Z&M!
      It very much is and then I haven´t even mentioned the evening 🙂 Lots of alcohol most of the times 🙂

      Have a great day!

  7. Happy belated Mid-Summer!
    Once again I am late reading and commenting. I’m so busy (and also I can’t use the work computer anymore! 😦 )
    I really liked reading about all the Swedish holidays and traditions.
    I sometimes forget that I’m 1/4 Swedish. My grandfather on my Mothers side was Swedish with the last name of Lind. He died before I was born and my Mom never liked to talk about him. She really didn’t like him so she tried to deny that side of her family…but you can’t change your heritage.
    So this is very interesting to me!
    Thanks, Cindi

    • Hi Cindi!
      I´ll be writing more about our traditions and holidays as they come 🙂

      Unfortunately it doesn´t mean that one is nice only because one is swedish 🙂 🙂

      Have a great day now!

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