Sunday, 23 June 2013

First Swedish Midsummer in 11 Years: Herring Cruelty and other Traditions

IMG_3281Excited and ecstatic. That's how I felt during the Midsummer weekend as I haven't celebrated a proper Swedish midsummer for 11 years. I have celebrated the summer solstice in England though by going to Stonehenge and taking part in other hippie activities, but I'd almost forgotten what Midsummer in Sweden is like. It felt like New Year's Eve; I waited for the clock to strike midnight and thought that something magical would happen. It didn't.  
IMG_3286Lunch time was exciting enough. My friends and I were invited to a traditional midsummer lunch on an island outside Gothenburg. I forced myself to try the pickled herring (disgusting, normally I'm a vegetarian) but luckily I got a snaps (spiced vodka) to wash it down with. We also sang  Helan Går and other classic snaps songs. Apart from the herring you eat new potatoes with dill and sour cream.

Dessert: strawberries with cream and ice-cream. In my family we usually have the strawberries with milk and sugar.
IMG_3310We danced around the midsommarstång and finished "the little frog song" just before it started to rain. Rain in particular seems to be a Swedish midsummer tradition. 
Another tradition is to pick seven different kinds of flowers and put them under your pillow - you will then dream of the person you are going to marry. I didn't pick any flowers, but I passed on my own tradition of picking words at random in a book and then reflect about them for a while. Colonisation and shingle machine were some of my words, but when we tried our luck with the tarot cards I got cruelty (in that particular deck of Swedish cards). I interpret it as cruelty against the herring. 

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