Can I convince people Swedes aren't weird?

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Can I convince people Swedes aren't weird?

Wreaths, tipple tunes, phallic worship... French exchange student Elodie Pradet has survived her first Swedish Midsummer, and wonders how she will ever explain it to her friends back home without making them think Swedes are crazy.


Most of my French friends already think that I live in Care Bears land, a mythical land in the far north where everything is quaint, everyone is cute, and all is just a bit odd.

It's quite hard for me to contradict them after my first Midsummer celebration. Swedes dancing and singing about frogs and violins around a tree that looks like male genitalia? Girls wearing wreaths of flowers on their head? Thousands of hook-ups taking place on just one night in the year? The exodus of thousands of citizens from the city to enjoy nature at their summer houses in the archipelago or in the countryside? It sounds like a big orgy, a fantasy.

Seriously, what can I tell my friends and family to convince them that Swedes are not that weird?

Should I avoid the fact that Midsummer revellers race against each other by jumping in sacks and that there are categories for men, women, and children? Probably.

IN PICTURES Images from Elodie's Midsummer kitchen table

Maybe it's no good either to explain that Swedes sit down for lunch with printed drinking lyrics nestling under their plates, just so they can whip out the words as soon as possible after someone has poured the first shots of snaps?

That they print the lyrics in case that one guy, this-guy-who-knows-all-the-lyrics, doesn't show up or not. Let's not take any risks, let's print the lyrics, you know.

We would never sing songs to get drunk in France, we just wouldn't.

Even though I think it's pretty cute, I will try not to say a word about the Swedish girl picking seven flowers in order to put them under her pillow because then she will dream about the love of her life. With a flower crown on her head. Most probably, my French guy friends would think that I've been living in a fairy land - beautiful girls bedecked in blossoms searching for a mate.

And what about this male genitalia tree? The Maypole, they say. Celebrating life, they say. Guys, you're dancing around a phallus! I can't even show the pictures to my dear Catholic grandmother, thanks guys. (Puss grandma).

SEE ALSO: Top ten: Odd Swedish Midsummer traditions

Let's forget, as well, this detail about our kubb game last Friday. Yeah, let's avoid telling mum that the goal of the game was to drink. And that my team won.

I will keep quiet about this moment when a girl tried to hit on a guy, even though he is the boyfriend of a girl present at the party. I won't say anything about the fight that ensued, the tears, and how the party retrieved its joy once the would-be home wrecker finally left. Yes, I will try to hide the fact that Midsummer is a traditional drunk party where everyone tries to get laid.

As I remember that a French friend found Sweden freezing when she came to visit me in May (while I was dying of heatstroke) I will spare her the tales of how these stubborn Swedes run to the lake in the middle of the night.

But I won't avoid telling my French friends one thing: this Midsummer celebration is the most Care Bears celebration ever. People who run away from the city for a day to celebrate life, small frogs (Små grodorna), nature, and their country.

This is how I see Midsummer.

I guess that singing about little frogs makes the little amphibians join the Swedes for Midsummer, because at the end, as the sun finally set and dusk descended on the meadow, a frog emerged from the grasses and said hello. He became the star attraction. We abandoned our game of Kubb and sang Små Grodorna to him.

Elodie Pradet

Follow Elodie on Twitter here


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