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Swedish Midsummer Dances Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 in Culture

512px-Midsommardans_av_Anders_Zorn_1897Every June, Swedes gather to celebrate Midsummer. Actually, they celebrate Midsummer Eve. It’s a time of singing and dancing and even a bit of drinking. That singing and dancing is quite the traditional part of a Midsummer celebration. As is the drinking, actually, but we’ll focus on the singing and dancing for now, just like Anders Zorn did back in 1897 in this famous Swedish painting.

Many of the songs that are sung during Midsummer are also sung at Christmas time. Which might seem a bit strange, but both celebrations offer a large green thing to dance around. In June, it’s the Midsummer pole and in December, it’s the Christmas tree. Songs like “Små grodorna,” “Räven raskar över isen,” and “Vi äro musikanter” are popular choices. In fact, we wrote a bit about Små grodorna a few years ago.

This year, we’re going to introduce another Midsummer song. It’s not a new one, by any means, but is a classic song and dance that people around Sweden will be performing and taking part in. The title of the song differs from place to place, but it is commonly known as “Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår” or “De små tvätterskorna.” Sometimes the enerissnår, the juniper bush, is replaced by the Midsommarstång, the Midsummer pole.

The song involves several laps around the Midsummer pole with several verses. Each verse differs jus a bit and describes some of the household chores that folks are taking care of during their work week. Of course, those household activities offer the dancer a chance to act out the chores, which you can see in the YouTube clip below.

But let’s take a quick look at the song in both Swedish and in English.

Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
enerissnår, enerissnår.
Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
tidigt en måndagsmorgon.
Så göra vi, när vi tvätta våra kläder,
tvätta våra kläder, tvätta våra kläder.
Så göra vi, när vi tvätta våra kläder,
tidigt en måndagsmorgon.

Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
enerissnår, enerissnår.
Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
tidigt en tisdagsmorgon.
Så göra vi, när vi skölja våra kläder,
skölja våra kläder, skölja våra kläder.
Så göra vi, när vi skölja våra kläder,
tidigt en tisdagsmorgon.

Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
enerissnår, enerissnår.
Så går vi runt om ett enerissnår,
tidigt en onsdagsmorgon.
Så göra vi, när vi hänga våra kläder,
hänga våra kläder, hänga våra kläder.
Så göra vi, när vi hänga våra kläder,
tidigt en onsdagsmorgon.

And the song continues through the rest of the week, but I think you get the idea:

Tidigt en torsdagsmorgon:
Så göra vi, när vi mangla våra kläder

Tidigt en fredagsmorgon:
Så göra vi, när vi stryka våra kläder

Tidigt en lördagsmorgon:
Så göra vi, när vi skura våra golv

Tidigt en söndagsmorgon:
Så göra vi, när till kyrkan vi gå

No problem, right? Now let’s take a look at the song in English translation:

This is how we walk around a juniper bush
Juniper bush, juniper bush.
This is how we walk around a juniper bush,
Early on Monday morning.
This is what we do when we wash our clothes,
Wash our clothes, wash our clothes.
This how what we do when we wash our clothes,
Early on Monday morning.

This is how we walk around a juniper bush
Juniper bush, juniper bush.
This is how we walk around a juniper bush,
Early on Tuesday morning.
This is what we do when we rinse our clothes,
Rinse our clothes, rinse our clothes.
This how what we do when we rinse our clothes,
Early on Tuesday morning.

This is how we walk around a juniper bush
Juniper bush, juniper bush.
This is how we walk around a juniper bush,
Early on Wednesday morning.
This is what we do when we hang our clothes,
Hang our clothes, hang our clothes.
This how what we do when we hang our clothes,
Early on Wednesday morning.

And just as in Swedish, the lyrics continue for every day of the week. I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now, so here are the relevant lyrics to switch out:

Early on Thursday morning:
This is what we do when we mangle our clothes

Early on Friday morning:
This is what we do when we iron our clothes

Early on Saturday morning:
This is what we do when we scrub our floors

Early on Sunday morning:
This is what we do when to church we go

There you go! Now you can gather your friends and sing and dance your way in Swedish around the Midsummer pole.

And if you’re interested in finding more songs, check out MidsommarSånger.se.

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About the Author:Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.


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