Sweden’s Midsummer was originally celebrated on 24 June, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, but has its roots in a pagan solstice festival. Now, Midsummer is officially held during a weekend between June 20 and 26.

After the long Scandinavian winter, the relatively short summer is well worth celebrating and so this is a great party, attended by pretty much the country’s entire population.

Midsummer Eve is traditionally celebrated in the outdoors and people leave town massively on the day before, flocking to the countryside to meet up with family members and friends, and leaving towns and cities eerily quiet.

As with Christmas, the only other holiday festivity to rival Swedish Midsummer, there is plenty of food on offer. The buffet usually includes: Grilled meat or salmon, pickled herring in endless variations, new potatoes with dill, sour cream and chives. All this is then generously washed down with beer and schnapps. For those preferring to take it easy there is dessert:  Ripe summer strawberries served with cream.

The festivities are focused on the maypole, and begin with the picking of greenery and flowers and making of wreaths to decorate the maypole, which is then raised to become the center of the party.

The maypole is actually a tradition which originated in Germany in the Middle Ages where it was decorated similarly and raised in May, hence the name. But spring in Sweden isn’t the same as in Germany, so the Swedish maypole festivities were pushed forward to summer.

Now the dancing around the maypole can begin and there may be folk dancing in traditional costume, or a rather newer invention: the Frog dance or Små grodorna, a game in which people of all ages hop around while singing about little frogs.

There is a reason Midsummer takes place in the country. The origin of the feast lies with the agricultural sector whose Midsummer celebrations were held to welcome summertime and the season of fertility. Going back many centuries, people didn’t just decorate the maypole with green foliage but also their homes and farms which was supposed to bring good fortune and health to people and livestock.

Midsummer Night is the lightest and thus longest night of the year and was considered in the past as magical, with girls placing at least 7 different species of flowers under their pillows, to dream of their future husbands and eating salted porridge so that they would appear with water to quench their thirst, and the possibility of discovering treasures by tracing moonbeam

P.S. There have also been rumours about fist fights, divorces and people falling from peers and boat, but we cannot verify this information . .