Midsummer or Midsommar festival ( Midsummer’s Eve ) is an old pagan festival dating back to the Viking Era which is the most popular celebrations held in Scandinavia ( Northern Europe ). Although the celebrations on the same patterns are also conducted in many other European countries but in the Scandinavian countries it is equally popular event like Christmas. Basically it is known as fertility rite tradition that takes place on a day between June 21 through June 24, and the preceding evening. Midsummer is also declared as National holiday in Scandinavian countries. The actual day of the celebration is also the longest day of the year (summer solstice), signifying that summer has reached the half-way point.
Historically many customs and rituals of Midsummer festival of Sweden are related with nature and with the hope for a good harvest in the coming fall/autumn. The decoration of the houses , arranging bonfires , traditional folk dancing , drinking schnapps and beer , eating , get together are the events that generally take place in this festival. These Midsummer traditions stem from pagan times, showing the defeat of the darkness from the powers of the sun god. Dancing around the Maypole is also a special tradition which is associated with May (engendering nature). The traditions surrounding the maypoles vary locally, as does the design of the poles, although the somewhat phallic design of a cross with two rings is most common nowadays. The traditional dances are also amazing which mostly are based upon the songs related to house hold jobs. Frog jumping is also important movement during these dances.
This celebration is also a popular event in other Scandinavian countries like in Norway, Denmark and Finland. In Norway this is known as “Jansok “. The celebrations tend to focus on a bonfire which is arranged to burn evil spirits. The distinguished custom of Midsummer festival of Norway is arranging of Mock marriages not even between adults but between children as well. Likewise in Denmark, with this Midsummer’s Eve , Sankt Hans aften (St. John’s Eve) is also celebrated on June 23rd. On that day, Danish people sing their traditional songs “We Love Our Land” and burn straw witches on bonfires. This is all happened in memory of the Church’s witch burnings of the 16th and 17th century. In Finland most of the Finns celebrate this event in the country side locations. Most of the families move to their cottages which are situated on the beaches or lakes. Many ritual rites like cookouts , bonfires and sauna are organized.
Many traditional dishes are also prepared in the Scandinavian counties during Midsummer festival specially potatoes with herring or smoked fish and fresh fruits. Midsummer festival of Scandinavia like Lunar Festival is an event of general merriment in which wonderful customs and traditions are expressed.