Friday, August 22, 2008

Swedish Midsummer Traditions... Maypoles and More Maypoles!

We were invited to celebrate Swedish midsummer with a large group of CS people in Darlarna, Sweden about 4 hours northwest of Stockholm.
Midsummer celebrations take place during the summer solstice in June, on the longest day of the year. There is a rich traditional way of celebrating midsummer in Sweden which includes visiting the countryside. We were lucky to have the chance to experience this great party in a traditional style.

After meeting up with a bunch of couch surfers in Stockholm, we stayed a cabin in the woods for five days and celebrated the. entire. time!!! Wikipedia says, "Midsummer rivals Christmas as the most important holiday of the year due to the copious amounts of alcohol consumed." Ha! This may in fact be true although, lets just say that for the rest of the trip anytime we did something silly our excuse was that we were still a bit tipsy from midsummer!
Hey, just think of this as a participant-observation study and it all feels very scientific. 

On our first day, we encountered a maypole party just up the road from our cabin.
It wasn't the best weather but I was too overwhelmed with excitement for the cute, traditional costumes, songs and dance to care! It takes half the group to help raise the maypole, all the while a folk band is playing songs, usually a string quartet. Once the maypole is up, everyone does a few dances around it. The most popular (and our favorite!) was the frog dance. I think it’s actually for children, but Desi and I were having a blast regardless, as this was the first midsummer experience for us both!

Here is the first of our many maypoles...

A few view of our cabin and surrounding farm...

(Almost) midnight sun...

Getting to know the other couchsurfers..

Another day, we visited the near by town of Orsa for their maypole party. 
The celebrations started off with a parade through the town, ciders in hand of course! and ended with maypoles, folk dancing, ice cream, more cider and more dance, so on and so forth. Lets just say that there are a lot of schnapps involved, which is actually scarier than you may think!

Getting the parade started with our new favorite expat, Ryan..

Time for another maypole!!

This time, we helped! Although, little Desi couldn't exactly reach very high!

Some folks, playing folk songs...

...and folk dancing too!

After that, we all had dinner together in Orsa, a handfull of roudy couchsurfers are pretty hard to miss.. especially since someone had the genius idea of bringing a box of wine. 
The vegetarian items on the menu were sold out so Desi and I with our two Australian pals (the wine smugglers) had our own little party on the terrace while a Swedish guitarist serenaded us with his best Beatles and Jimmy Buffet cover songs. After a bit, two heavily intoxicated Finns came to join our wine-sing-a lot-party. This resulted in me feeling the need to dance around the place with Desi to Jimmy Buffet melodies, sung in Swedish. Soon enough more and more people arrived out on the terrace and to dance and sing along (who knows what they were saying!?) I highly recommend starting midsummer dance parties in random places!
The end result:

It's sad to say that old, Swedish men were apparently my only suitors that evening.
I guess my dance moves were just too intense for the younger crowd. 
Unfortunately, this became an going experience throughout the entire trip...ha!
What can I say? I guess I've got an old soul. 

No comments:

Post a Comment