It's rather fitting that half-way through our challenge we come to today's topic of midsommar. You already learned sommar (sum + are). Mid is pronounced “mead” as in the fermented beverage made from honey. Can you guess the compound word?
Middle of summer. Summer solstice. June 20th or 21st depending on the year. In Sweden, this is a big deal and celebrated in a big way. I'll be sharing my childhood memories, and based on what google has helped me find, my memories appear to be rather intact.
The most memorable part of the celebration for me was the dancing. I've always loved to dance, and dancing around the decorated pole is a treasured memory. The post card above shows a typical midsommar dance. (In Swedish dance is dans as in dunce, go sit in the corner.)
There are a lot of different traditional dances that are performed during the celebration. I guess the easiest way to describe them is that they are called out just like in square dancing, and a lot of the moves are similar. The music is sometimes live, but not always. Some dances are very complex, and take an hour or more to finish with all kinds of complicated moves. Not individual moves, but group moves. In one part of my favorite dance of this type, Polynåsen, all the dancers are connected in interlocking rings that move around and through each other. You don't have to be an expert or have studied these, but it helps to have a strong partner. Anna, you gotta help me out here. I couldn't make YouTube speak Swedish like I can google...
The other part I really liked was making the flower wreaths for our hair. We wore these during the midsommar celebration. Some girls had the traditional Swedish dresses to wear for the party – each county has it's own style – but the rest of us just wore a skirt and blouse. Skirts are very popular. Girls threw them on like we do a pair of jeans. Took me a while to adjust when I was 14, but by the time I returned at 16, I knew the drill and came prepared.
The final tradition I'd like to share is the flowers under the pillow. Legend says that if you find seven different wildflowers and put them under your pillow when you go to bed on midsommar night, you will dream of your future love. I of course tried this many times, but since there was very little sleeping these night, there wasn't much chance of me dreaming of my intended.
It was really special to watch the sun start to set, and a sort of twilight settle in, but before we were even aware of that, it started getting lighter again. I think we went to bed around 3 am the year I was 16. After all, we were at camp, the counselors had long since gone to bed, and we were young and hopeful, and had just spent the evening dancing and dreaming, with flowers in our hair and the future ahead of us. Still young enough to think that life will turn out great, if you just dream hard enough. With seven flowers under your pillow.