Thursday, May 08, 2008

Midsummer Festivities Create a Uniquely Swedish Holiday

Travelers to Sweden in Midsummer can immerse themselves in special happenings that celebrate pagan rites and the power of Mother Earth for an unforgettable cultural journey. One can become a Swede for the day by participating in the country’s local customs and traditions at Midsummer.

Glad Midsommar och skal! (Happy Midsummer and cheers!)
In Midsummer Sweden is lush and green evoking magical power in natural things. In the north there is round the clock sunshine. In Stockholm and points south is scarcely gets dark. And temperatures hover in the 60s. Midsummer’s Eve is celebrated all over Sweden, with dancing and singing around the Maypole. Maypoles are part of an ancient fertility rite that would ensure good harvests. Swedes begin the day by picking wildflowers and making wreaths to place on the Maypole and young girls. Once the Maypole is raised, fiddlers play and there is joyful singing, laughing and dancing which continues under the Midnight sun until morning. Swedes load their picnic hampers and festive tables with herring dishes, fresh boiled potatoes and dill, Swedish meat balls, crisp bread, Vasterbotten cheese and fresh strawberries as well as Swedish beer and plenty of schnapps.

Midsummer is a national holiday in Sweden and is celebrated on the weekend nearest June 24. In 2008 Midsummer Day falls on Saturday June 21, but the festivities start the day before, on Midsummer Eve. Swedes celebrate Midsummer with equal gusto to Americans partying on the Fourth of July. Families and friends gather and are especially fond of doing so in their summer cottages located around lakes and along the shore. Every Swedish town, city and province celebrates Midsummer – the longest day of the year. And it is easy for visitors to participate.

In Stockholm, for instance, the Skansen open-air museum is one of the best places to celebrate this holiday. Here Midsummer is a three day event (Midsummer Eve, Midsummer Day and day after Midsummer) with concerts, games, performances and much more. Visitors are invited to help fashion garlands of flowers for the Maypole which they raise together with Skansen Folk Dance Team. Traditional fiddlers play for the ring dances which are followed by singing, games and dancing round the Maypole. In the evening there are folk dancing demonstrations and those present are invited to dance together on Skansen's outdoor dance floors.

Skåne traditions
A genuine cultural fete, Midsummer involves steadfast traditions and novel variations. According to the Swedish food chain Hemköp, the Midsummer favorite in the southern region of Skåne is prinskorv, small fried sausages. The inhabitants of this international culinary hotspot also prefer pickled herring in onion brine over other types. In Skåne visitors can catch a Midsummer happening at Sofiero Palace & Gardens in Helsingborg on June 20. Fredriksdal Museums & Gardens, a historic manor house complex, near Helsingborg will host events June 20 and 21. Additionally there will be public Midsummer gatherings in local towns such as Tockarp, Åsljunga and Eket.

Midsummer in Göteborg & West Sweden
Traditional Midsummer celebrations also take place at Läckö Castle on the shore of Lake Vänern, about two hours north-east of Göteborg. Läckö Castle is a 17th century fairytale castle complete with turrets and spires and an enchanting setting on Lake Vänern. There are magnificent public rooms and furniture, popular summer exhibitions and a famous castle garden. Opera and concerts are also held here. Midsummer festivities will take place on the ramparts on June 22. Preparation of the Midsummer Maypole starts at 2 PM and dancing at 4 PM. Additionally, June 22-24 the castle will host a medieval marketplace 10 AM-6 PM where attendees can hone their archery skills, sample medieval fare and purchase “Middle Age” silver, ceramics, sweets and more.

Midsummer festivities will also be held at several sites in and around Göteborg, Sweden’s second largest city, a culinary capital and a getaway favorite. Among the places holding such events is Nääs Castle, 30 minutes outside Göteborg.  Nääs Slott (castle) is a well-preserved, 19th century manor house in Rococo style and has a world famous crafts center offering a full schedule of courses and exhibitions.

At Trädgårdsföreningen, the Horticultural Society Gardens in Göteborg, travelers can partake in traditional Midsummer celebrations -- in stunning floral surroundings. Additionally, June 28-August  28, 2008 this botanical garden will host an international exhibition “Gardens of Gothenburg” that creates a 19th century atmosphere and spans four different sites.

For information regarding press related matters, please contact:

Annika Benjes
Director Public Relations, USA
Phone: +12128859762

annika.benjes@visitsweden.com

Annika Benjes, PR Manager US

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