Winters are long and dark in Sweden, so it is no surprise that the onset of summer brings a torrent of celebration across the entire country. If you are lucky enough to be vacationing in Sweden at the onset of Summer, prepare to park your motorhome and revel in a holiday spirit that rivals Christmas.
Midsummer is a recognized national holiday in Sweden, always celebrated on the weekend closest to the summer solstice. This makes its actual observance fall on the Friday anywhere between the 20th and 26th, although you might come across smaller celebrations on the actual longest day of the year.
There is not a park in Sweden that will be free from the festivities on Midsummer. This makes it easy for you and your family to step out of the motorhome and become part of the fun no matter where in Sweden you happen to be. But if at all possible, try and motor your way to Stockholm for that day, and the small island of Djurgarden within its limits.
The Skansen Open Air Museum
One of the most authentic midsummer celebrations takes place inside of the Skansen museum on Djurgarden Island. The oldest outside museum in existence, its focus is on keeping the traditional culture of Sweden alive and thriving. Even without the excitement of a large festival taking place, the Skansen museum takes you on an incredible real life journey back to the 16th century.
The centerpiece of midsummer is the Maypole, a tall pole that is decorated with greenery and flowers before being raised, much like a Christmas tree would be. Long strands of colored fabric extend from the top and serve as props for the many traditional dances that are performed in honor of the holiday.
Midsummer celebrating starts in the middle of the day and will go on until after nightfall at the Skansen Museum. Don’t worry about cooking in the motorhome during the event. Instead, let this be one of the times you indulge in popular foods of the nation, especially pickled herrings, red potatoes and sour cream with chives. You might even snag a plate of prince sausage and meatballs if you’re lucky.
During the holiday in Sweden, don’t be surprised to see the other revelers at the Skansen outdoor museum dressed in traditional clothing and sporting floral arrangements in their hair. The root of midsummer is the pagan tradition of celebrating the fertility of spring, and nothing highlights that lovelier than a crown of fresh picked flowers.
Even if you are not Swedish, expect to be swept up in the momentum of this vibrant day. Get into it by dressing up yourself, sipping on the local snaps and doing one or two dances around the maypole. The energy is contagious, and you will be quickly caught up in it.
Traveling through Sweden and Northern Europe gives an up close and personal view of the beautiful bounties that nature has provided for us. It is therefore only fitting that when you are given the chance, you pay homage to those forces with a bouquet of pretty posies and a ceremonial dance around a tree dressed pole.