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Author Topic: Glad midsommar!  (Read 2898 times)

Aimless

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Glad midsommar!
« on: 20 Jun 2008, 10:40 »

Happy midsummer, folks :) I take it this is a perfectly ordinary day for all non-Swedes??

An explanation:

Quote
The Lowdown on Swedish Midsummer

    Published: 19 Jun 08 11:29 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/7665/
  Midsummer is approaching - but what are we celebrating and why do Swedes celebrate the way they do? The Local explains.
I've been invited to a Swedish Midsummer party, and frankly, I'm terrified. I've been told it involves eating raw fish, drinking copious amounts of vodka and dancing round a big phallus while I pretend to be a frog.

Well, you've been informed correctly. Swedish Midsummer parties vary considerably, of course, from the respectable and sober to the downright bawdy. Still, singing, the eating of pickled herrings and the downing of shots of traditional flavoured brännvins are all considered to be good form. For most Swedes, and most foreigners fortunate enough to experience it, it is simply the best party of the year.

What exactly are we celebrating?

Held on the evening of the Friday between June 19th and 25th, Midsummer marks the the longest day of the year. In Sweden, a country with dark winters and short summers, celebrating the light and the warmth is a natural thing to do.

Strong pagan elements to the festival persist, although their exact links to pre-Christian Sweden are hard to pin down. Pagan societies in northern Europe were known to celebrate summer solstice, but there are no sources to indicate exactly how pagan Midsummer celebrations in Sweden might have looked.

Attempts by the church to adapt the day to the feast of St. John the Baptist never really took off in Sweden, and celebrations retain a reassuringly profane feeling.

Where should I celebrate?

Not in the big cities, anyway. Midsummer is a definite outdoor activity, even if the summer weather traditionally gives way to rain just as Swedes are about to settle down to their smörgåsbord.

Most Swedes would picture a traditional Midsummer party being held in a little red cottage by a lake. If you don't have an invitation to a Midsummer party, many hotels organize celebrations, and the Skansen open air museum in Stockholm also holds events.

Is the maypole really a phallic symbol?

This rather depends on who you ask. Some claim that it is actually symbolises an axis linking the world of the living to the underworld and the heavens in Norse mythology. Others, however, suspect that this is just a convenient explanation invented by prudes, and stick to the traditional story that it is a symbol for fertility. Which would explain why Swedish maypoles look so rude.

Maypoles are also common in Germany, Britain and France, and are believed to have been introduced to Sweden by Germans in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. Most other countries raise their maypoles in May, but Swedes wait until Midsummer. One explanation for this is that the leaves and flowers needed to decorate the poles aren't made available until June by Sweden's late-arriving summer.

What about this frog dance thing?

Ah yes, the song 'Små Grodorna' is considered to be an important part of the Swedish national culture. Partygoers hop around the maypole in the style of frogs, singing along to the immortal lyrics which translate as: 'Little frogs are funny to look at/ They don't have ears or tails'.

Goodness me, this brännvin must be dangerous stuff.

It certainly has a reputation for removing inhibitions. Sometimes things go a bit too far, and newspapers at Midsummer are guaranteed to contain stories about drunken brawls and worse.

One way to soak up the alcohol is to stock up at the smörgåsbord. This is where the raw fish comes in - the buffet usually includes herrings pickled in various different flavours, as well as boiled potatoes, sour cream, chives and crispbread. This is often followed by freshly-picked Swedish strawberries.

What should I wear to this Midsummer Party?

A garland of flowers is traditional, most commonly for women and children, but sometimes for men too. Some people also wear traditional outfits, corresponding to the part of the country they come from. This is very much restricted to the minority these days, however, and most people will turn up in their normal outdoor party gear.

What does folklore say about Midsummer?

There are plenty of myths surrounding the festival. One such myth is that if young people pick flowers at Midsummer they will dream of their future spouse.

On a more sinister note, it is said that people should be careful about swimming, for fear of falling victim to Näcken, the Evil Spirit of the Water. As with most myths, there's something in it, although the name of the evil spirit causing swimmers trouble is far more likely to be O.P. Andersson.
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Aimless

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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #1 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:16 »

I'm not sure which weird-ass hats you mean! Maybe the ones that go with the traditional Swedish dress? And don't Norwegians also wear funny hats? I always imagine tall thin smiling men in pointy wool hats when I think of Norwegians!

Huh, bonfire eh... do you guys make a bonfire on Valborgsmässoafton/Walpurgisnacht?
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benji

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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #2 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:26 »

I think my family got invited to something like that when I was a child. We lived in Minnesota at the time, and their are lots of people of Swedish ancestry their. I don't remember much about it, but my parents have since described it as a very dull evening, so I'm guessing it was a toned down version of it.

I might get together with some people to celebrate the solstice, but it will probably be a relatively small affair, and I doubt we'll end up dancing like frogs. Though that does sound like a hell of a lot of fun.
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #3 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:27 »

Here in America we are boring and out-of-touch with the universe, so we do not have a national holiday for this.  We totally should, though.
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pwhodges

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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #4 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:39 »

Sadly, access to Stonehenge on midsummer morning is now strictly controlled, it case it gets worn out.
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #5 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:42 »

Here in America we are boring and out-of-touch with the universe, so we do not have a national holiday for this.  We totally should, though.

You totally should:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on9PLzlY0Ww
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #6 on: 20 Jun 2008, 11:54 »

I am so going to a Midsummer festival in Sweden when I get the chance.  I decided that about two years ago.
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #7 on: 20 Jun 2008, 12:00 »

How exactly do you wear out five thousand year old giant boulders?

A little bit at a time...

In 1900 (scroll down) it was a serious worry.
« Last Edit: 20 Jun 2008, 12:02 by pwhodges »
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #8 on: 20 Jun 2008, 13:21 »

"One way to soak up the alcohol is to stock up at the smörgåsbord."

Sounds like fun.

I mean every year the one half of my family throws a big party with an abundance of drink and food during this time in the Summer.  I suppose it's kinda like that.

Due to the fact that I am alone in a new town I will have to do the best on my own.




Also, I would to note that this thread had a person from Norway and a person from Sweden discussing funny hats.

Magical...
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #9 on: 20 Jun 2008, 17:29 »

Every time I see the title I read it as "glad misnomer". Eh. I feasted on mac and cheese out of the pan and had gatorade. Screw all of you and your festival-having cultures.
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MKH90

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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #10 on: 20 Jun 2008, 18:20 »

Happy midsummer, folks :) I take it this is a perfectly ordinary day for all non-Swedes??

Pretty much an excuse for massive amounts of boozefests here in Finland, at least. Not that I mind :P

Also somewhat officially celebrated with midsummer festivals and stuff.
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #11 on: 20 Jun 2008, 20:02 »

Here in America we are boring and out-of-touch with the universe, so we do not have a national holiday for this.  We totally should, though.

You totally should:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on9PLzlY0Ww

That looks pretty much exactly like Heritage Fest, the annual festival that the city one of my aunts lives in--it celebrates German history and such, though, since a lot of people in that area (Minnesota) are of Germanic descent.
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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #12 on: 20 Jun 2008, 23:34 »

The town I frequently spend most of my time in because it is hells of cooler than the town I live in, has a parade every spring called "All Species Day," and they had a circle thing like in that video last year.  I missed it this year, though, so I don't know if they did it again, but Vermont has a rather large Paganism/Wicca/Green Religion underground sort of thing.
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Aminal

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Re: Glad midsommar!
« Reply #13 on: 21 Jun 2008, 07:30 »

Holy crap, guys...I found out last night my town is having a Summer Solstice celebration today.

Yes, that's right, my tiny town in Southwest Virginia, a place where people only put their teeth in for special occasions.

Apparently we're filling downtown with 20 tons of beach sand, getting shitfaced, and eating oysters.  Oh, and registering people to vote.  If it's good I'll post pictures.
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