Finally we arrived in Vaxjo, Sweden in time for Midsommar. I’ve found it a bit tricky to write about our experience of Midsommar in Sweden, because I can’t find the words to tell you how happy it made me. A big part of our European road trip has been reconnecting with friends from the past. When I hatched the plan of Midsommar in Sweden I was actually a bit hesitant, because I hadn’t seen my friend for about ten years and I thought it could be a bit presumptuous to invite ourselves to spend it with her. As it turns out she and her family were very generous and gave us some of the happiest memories of our trip.
In Sweden, Midsommar celebrations come second only to Christmas celebrations. There are special foods, special songs and special dances. We started the day with a visit to a local event in a park with a giant maypole. I joined in with the crowd and did some funny dances involving frog and pig moves as well as doing the washing. I had no idea what was going on, but it was great fun. Afterwards we basked in the sun while we ate some ice cream. All around were girls and ladies with beautiful flower crowns in their hair. So far, Midsommar was living up to the hype.
We headed back to our hotel room for a rest before the main event at my friend’s parents home, a glorious Midsommar feast. When we arrived our hosts explained that “first we will eat and then we will eat some more.” And they weren’t wrong. We had two rounds of eating and there was plenty to enjoy. Two types of pickled herring, scrumy potato salad and garden salad, eggs, barbecued meats, fresh bread and more. Our youngest enjoyed the elderflower drink and we enjoyed the beer and, of course, the schnapps, because “herring always needs company,” (in the form of schnapps.) And when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, out came the delicious Swedish strawberry cake, for which you must always use Swedish strawberries, because they are the best. It was so lovely. Created with layers of sweet cream and strawberries sandwiched between meringue. I don’t know how we fit it in, but we all had two servings.
During the day we also learnt how to play the Swedish game of Kubb (see title picture for the equipment). It’s a lawn game involving two teams, sometimes described as a cross between the games of horseshoes and bowls. Each member of the team takes a turn to throw a wooden baton at the opposing team’s line of blocks. The first team to knock over all the other team’s blocks wins. There are also some other complicated rules that involve a wooden block that is between the teams that has a crown shape carved at the top. These seemed to be a point of constant negotiation, so I never really got a proper grasp of them. It didn’t really matter because it was excellent fun for all.
We have had so many amazing experiences on this trip, but the Midsommar celebrations will always be one of my favourites. To meet such lovely people and reconnect with an old friend makes the world seem so small and wonderful. In fact we loved it so much we hoped to do our own version when we get back home. I wonder if Ikea stock Swedish strawberries?
If you would like to know more about Swedish Midsommar, check out this video aptly titled “Swedish Midsummer for Dummies,” and I challenge you not to chuckle. It’s from the official website of Sweden, https://sweden.se, that is lots of fun and highly informative.