Enjoy the silence, listen to the sound of the birds and animals and smell the green season. Experience the blue skies of summer over rustling golden wheat fields swaying in the warm summer breeze. You should experience Sweden in summer – a genuine summer wonderland.
The rolling Swedish landscape is pricked with red poppies and blue cornflowers, and shimmering sweet-water lakes are surrounded by lush green trees. The diary cows are in the fields next to the popular red Swedish summer cottages. In the distance you may hear squeals of kids enjoying their summer vacation. Swedish forests, lakes and mountains are medicine for the soul.
In Sweden, the sky darkens briefly to twilight, then lightens again. The evenings know no darkness. No wonder, the Midsummer party is so essential for most Swedes. And the Swedish summer is brief and intense. The shibboleth of summer worshipping Swedes takes place in many forms.
Swedish National Flag Day
A relatively new celebration in Sweden is the National Day, 6th June. Historically, the 6th of June is remembered as the day King Gustav Vasa was crowned in 1523 which led to the formation of the state and constitution. However, it wasn’t until the 1900s this day became the Swedish National Flag Day after the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway.
The Midsummer Day
The Midsummer Day has, however, been around for centuries. According to Sweden’s Nordic Museum, Midsummer celebrations originally developed from a Christian holiday for John the Baptist, which took place on 24 June. But in 1953, it was decided that the ‘official Midsummer’s Day’ should always be on the Friday closest to June 24. Over this weekend, thousands of Swedes head for the country to celebrate the longest day of the year at an open field. Midsummer are decorated with leaves and flowers, flags and fetishes. Happy people are dancing and singing around the pole, playing traditional games and consuming enormous amounts of food and drink.
Midsummer’s Day is a true celebration of mother nature, fertility and family. More recently, midsommar is the start of the traditional 6-week summer holiday that many Swedes take in July. The absolute mark of summer in Sweden.
Swedish red cottages
It’s time to go far away from the cities – preferably to a red summer cottage surrounded by mushrooms, blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries and smultron (forest strawberries). Late evenings often end with a swim in the sea or a sun-warmed lake. Sweden is surrounded by water both inland and along the coast.
Another summer tradition in Sweden is the crayfish party. Like the name implies, the guests of honor at this party are the crayfish which are devoured by the dozens. This tradition began in the late 19th century, when heavy exportation threatened Sweden’s crayfish populations. A ban on harvesting was instituted, and it ran until August – when the locals celebrated its end by throwing crayfish feasts.
In northern Sweden, autumn arrives early. In some areas, leaves turn yellow, orange and red as early as August.
In Gotland, early August means Medieval celebrations, and in Stockholm it means outdoor living, enjoying the cafés, outdoor dining, excursions to the Archipelago and picnics in one of the many parks. Stockholm’s water is among the purest found within a world city, and it is completely safe to swim and fish in. So, Sweden is a genuine summer wonderland.
Sweden – A Genuine Summer Wonderland, written by Tor Kjolberg
Feature image (on top) Photo: Kungsträdgården Photo: Cecilia Larsson / Visit Sweden