I read an article on the local.se which discussed six reasons to hate Midsummer, one of the biggest festival celebrations in Sweden.
Midsummer is a truly traditional festival, and as with festivals some love it and some do not. Last summer I witnessed my first Midsummer in Sweden, and though it was quite a small celebration it was nevertheless an experience I will not forget. It’s not the first Midsummer I had celebrated, each year when I lived in London I would go to Hyde Park and join several thousand Swedish people celebrating and trying to learn a festival that I knew little about.
The pole, dancing, singing songs about frogs and drinking sweet drinks were all something that was relatively new to me. Every country has their own traditional festivals and celebrations that some may find embarrassing. I think Sweden has a love of traditional festivals and celebrations such as Midsummer. In the UK, we don’t take days such as St Georges day too seriously. I would say that the Swedish are certainly more united in celebration of national days than we are, especially when celebrating with the entire family.
So last year on a day when the rain and sun decided to fight each other for control, I drove to a very small village near Linköping. The first thing I noticed was that there were much more children than there were in Hyde Park in London. I think in London is just a tendency to drink a lot of alcohol and have fun with other adults, Midsummer is more of a family day when children and adults join in a day of national festivity.
So the six reasons that Anderson Harris wrote off to dislike Midsummer I thought I would give my own interpretations.
The first was the alcohol is consumed on Midsummer. Brännvin is not the most pleasant drink, but it is a drink to drink traditionally. In a country, where alcohol laws are quite strict the fact that this is drunk on a special occasion gives it a special meaning to me and I actually enjoying drinking this slowly throughout the day. Of course, you can stick to something non-alcoholic you can drink a beer, wine, vodka or whiskey, whatever you desire. Nobody is going to say anything if your pass on the Brännvin.
The second is pickled herring. Personally I hate fish and often find it hard to sit with Swedish people at tables and bite my tongue and trying not to explain the reasons why I don’t like fish. I don’t have an allergy to fish but being British my only love of fish is if it comes in batter. Nobody is forcing you to eat it, and you can always say no and on the occasions where I have politely refused nobody has said anything that has ever made me feel uncomfortable.
The third reason was the letdown of high expectations about Midsummer. The Swedish people I’ve spoken to since I read this article say that they have no expectations of a day that comes around in a season where everyone is happy, in fact, I would say the only people that have high expectations of Midsummer are those who have not experienced it for, people like myself last year. Unlike Christmas or Halloween there isn’t any gift swapping involved or buying anything for anyone it’s just a day to enjoy with family and friends and after a ,long cold, dark winter what better way than to have some fun than those close, even if the weather is bad. It’s June, summer hasn’t started yet, well not really.
The fourth reason was the Midsummer dancing. The writer of the article claims that the people bouncing around were in a “zombie like state”. The song of Små grodorna or little frogs only lasts a few minutes, and if you make a fool of yourself doing a dance then is a problem? Do we not make a fool of ourselves on New Year singing Auld Lang Syne? What’s the difference except jumping around with the hands-on head from behind your bum? We take life too seriously sometimes to and to take a few moments for yourself in front of your family or friends is something you shouldn’t be ashamed of.
The fifth reason Anderson stated was those who wear traditional costumes. You don’t have to get dressed up. The festival I was at last year there were probably no more than five people dressed in traditional costumes, and these were the ones organising the event. What is the problem in wearing something traditional? So Scottish men not wear a kilt with pride?
The last reason was that the days are officially getting shorter and that the amount of sunlight we have will become less and less each day. I’m sorry but who’s counting? I see this as the start of summer, not the end. If someone actually starts counting the hours from sunrise to sunset from this day then they truly have something wrong with their lives and too much time to waste.
Midsummer is a delightful celebration full of tradition and wonder, and I know I will enjoy it for many years to come. Of course, there are those that may not like it, we have an option stay home and watch TV, on the Internet play game. Personally I’d rather go out, regardless of weather, and enjoy a day having fun with those I care for.