My First Swedish Midsummer Celebration
This year is my second summer in Sweden, but I only joined the Swedish midsummer celebration this year. Living in a tropical country (Philippines), I always think that I had too much sun already. I took advantage of it last year, and I didn’t understand the celebration that much. Well, not until I experienced autumn and winter here.
You see, I have different expectations when it comes to autumn and winter — I only see the good side of those seasons. The good photos, winter wonderland, etc.
Nowadays, every time the sun is up, I get overexcited. “Finally, sun!” is what I always tell to myself. It’s hard to get used to the dark, cold days here.
Swedish midsummer celebration
What is the Swedish midsummer celebration and why is it a holiday in Sweden? Midsummer (midsommar) in Sweden is on a Friday, usually between 19 – 25th of June. This is where people celebrate the longest day of the year: 18+ hours of daylight.
I haven’t experienced the traditional Swedish midsummer celebration, but I was told that it is usually celebrated at home with your family. For starters, I decided to see the celebration of midsummer in Skansen.
Skansen is an open-air museum and zoo in Sweden, located in Djurgården, Stockholm. Every year, this is where you’ll find the city’s biggest Midsummer celebration. It starts at 10 AM, but the raising of the grand Maypole starts at 2 PM. Since it is where the city’s biggest Midsummer celebration is, expect that there are a lot of people — long queues and everywhere there’s a crowd.
If you want to skip the long queue at the entrance, arrive at Skansen before 10 AM. Or, pre-book your tickets online. The ticket costs 220 SEK per adult. For more details about its opening hours & ticket prices, click here.
Swedish midsummer schedule
- Midsummer’s Eve – 21 June 2019
- Midsummer’s Day – 22 June 2019
- Midsummer continues – 23 June 2019
My friend and I went on Midsummer’s Eve, and each day has its schedule. We arrived at Skansen at around 12:30 PM; we couldn’t ride the bus because of too many people so we just walked to Skansen. It’s a lot better than taking the bus because the weather is perfect!
While we were waiting for the raising of the grand Maypole, we took our time roaming around Skansen. This museum is huge and you’ll need a few hours to visit every area. Make sure that you wear your most comfortable clothes and shoes because there will be lots of walking! You need to have a bottle of water to keep you hydrated.
Bring snacks as well since it’ll be difficult to get a seat at the restaurant and the queue for each stall is long as well.
Waiting for the raising of the grand Maypole
We went to Tingsvallen around 1:30 PM and waited for the raising of the grand Maypole to start. We found a decent spot near the rope so we stayed there (advantage of being small persons). Everyone was sitting on their picnic blanket and eating; but a few minutes before 2 PM, we all started to stand up to prepare for the parade.
Main event of Swedish midsummer celebration (Swedish midsommar)
Raising of the grand maypole
It’s either you go near the pole immediately after the parade or stay as far as you can from the crowd. My friend and I were not able to witness the raising itself (disadvantage of being small persons), but we got a better view from afar when it was almost raised.
I love how people are chanting, encouraging each other in raising the Maypole. And, once the Maypole was raised, people started to cheer and you could tell from their voices how happy they are.
This celebration might seem not that big of a deal to other people, but I understand now why a lot of Swedes celebrate this day. Not only Swedes but everyone else living in Sweden. Midsummer is one of the most important days of the year next to Christmas.
It felt surreal when I saw the Maypole standing. After that, people started to dance around the Maypole. People did the frog dance where they imitate the frog and hop around the Maypole while singing a classic tune ‘Små grodorna‘ (The Small Frogs).
Another that you will notice is people are wearing a wreath on their head. You can either buy one or make your own. The Midsummer celebration isn’t complete without that one.
My friend and I stayed for a few more hours and listened to live bands in Skansen.
Enjoying the sun while it last!
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I am so glad I didn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the Midsummer this year. I’m not a fan of crowded places, but this is an exemption. Oh, and since I enjoyed the sun too much, I went home with a sunburn.
Totally worth it! I can’t wait to let Miguel and my loved ones experience this celebration too.