We just had one of the biggest events of the year for Candy People – exhibiting at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. We had a great time, met lots of potential new retailers, and we’ve finally caught up after returning home. With that milestone passed, now, we’re looking forward to Friday – the start of the traditional Swedish Midsummer Holiday (Midsommar)!
It’s hot here at our U.S. headquarters in Texas as 2016 sweeps into summer – very much unlike Candy People’s global headquarters in Sweden, where the next couple of months are the best time to be outside! In fact, for Americans trying to do business in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Norway during July is very nearly impossible – almost all businesses shut down as citizens take a month of vacation to enjoy the summer and the summer holidays. And, with that comes one of the most beloved outdoor holidays in Sweden – Midsummer!
Every year on the Friday that falls between June 19-25, the Swedes celebrate Midsummer Eve, with Midsummer celebrations lasting through the weekend. June 24 is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and because Sweden is so close to the North Pole, daylight lasts for 18 hours! In reality, even the ‘night’ isn’t that dark, so we usually talk about having 24 hours of daylight for Midsummer.
Swedes celebrate Midsummer Eve in the countryside in large gatherings – whole extended families commonly get together for the celebration. Old traditions like a maypole are observed by many, decorated with flower wreathes picked fresh that day. Kids and boisterous adults dance around the maypole to traditional Swedish folk music. In fact, it is very common to see several people in traditional Swedish costumes performing folkdances. Of all holidays in Sweden, Midsummer evokes the most nostalgia, and people hold dear to the traditions.
Like any big family gathering in the U.S., Midsummer celebrations usually feature the most beloved food of the Swedish people – pickled herring, new potatoes with dill/chives sour cream – and of course, grilled meat or fish, all finished with delightful strawberry cake. Cold beer and schnapps help keep spirits up! It is a must for all guests to join in and sing classic Swedish Midsummer songs around the table during the meal. And, though we usually hold up the tradition of lördagsgodis, you shouldn’t be surprised to see kids with traditional Swedish candy a day early!
With so much daylight and so few days of it – even after the traditional dancing and meals and celebrating – most Swedes are up dancing more modern dances late i
nto the night. But, unmarried women and girls have to reserve a little energy for one final tradition. They’re supposed to pick seven different flowers on the way home from dancing, and then put them under their pillows that night. Folklore says that sleeping on that pillow will lead to dreams of their future husband!
Some of these traditions are probably very foreign to Americans. But, in the States we have our own traditions to uphold – tossing bouquets at weddings or shooting fireworks on Independence Day – you know the ones! We hope you have an excellent summer, as well, and find some time to celebrate your favorite traditions with your family like we do in Sweden.