24 June 2011

Midsummer - Celebration Of Light

Today the Swedish members of the team celebrate Midsummer. Sweden has long and dark winters, and maybe that is the reason why the Swedes have honored the lightest day of the year since long before Sweden was a country. Midsummer is one of the most important holidays of the year, and even if the summer solstice is celebrated in other parts of Europe also, many Swedes feel that Midsummer is something typically Swedish. Probably this feeling comes from the many traditions surrounding Midsummer's Eve, the day of the main celebrations.

Most Swedes try to get out from the towns to celebrate Midsummer in the countryside, so on the island where Sigge and I live and has its head quarters, we count on having guests for this holiday. In the morning of Midsummer's Eve, people go out to pick flowers and dress the maypole. "Allemansrätten", the law that gives us the freedom to roam in the countryside, also gives us the right to pick flowers that are not protected.

After a lunch on pickled herring, chives, sour cream and the first potatoes of the season, it is time to raise the maypole on a meadow or lawn. After that follows dancing around the pole. All join hands and create huge rings, and then we sing traditional songs while wandering around the pole. Often special movements has to be performed with each song, and this is a great joy for the children.

 Unfortunately I do not have a good photo of our CEO Peter making these silly movements while dancing around the maypole with his kids, but I can assure you that he loves it! Instead I chose a photo of dancing people in folks costumes that I took during last year's celebration. In the evening follows a long dinner with friends and family and more dancing and singing.

In ancient times people believed that magic was strong during Midsummer's Eve, so it was a good night for rituals to look into the future. Unmarried young girls picked a bouquets of seven different flowers and put it under the pillow to dream about their future husband. Herbs picked at Midsummer were considered to be highly potent, and the spring water could bring you good health.

Greenery was placed over houses and barns to bring good fortune, and we still decorate our houses with greens even though we today do it just to create the Midsummer spirit.

I hope my readers feel some of that spirit reading this post. Even if you don't celebrate the light in the way the Swedes do it, I know many of you honor it in other ways. Therefore I wish you all a Happy Midsummer!

By Kate Kalmström
Marketing and Documentation Business Solutions

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