Midsommar: Blommor or Bust! Posted by Chelsea B on Jun 24, 2020 in Culture, food, History, Holidays, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language, The Swedish blog team, Travel, Uncategorized, Vocabulary
Glad midsommar allihopa / Happy Midsommar everyone!
I’ll admit, I’m a little late because midsommar was last week but because it is one of the most popular holidays in Sweden, this wouldn’t be a Swedish blog without a nod to midsommar. An ode to nature and all things summery, Swedes leave cities in droves to spend time in the countryside with friends and family. Personally, when I think of midsommar, my head fills with images of flowers! In this post, I will provide some essential midsommar vocabulary and then highlight a few midsommar customs that rely on flowers.
Last week, I promised I would get back to some more beginning vocab so here we go! First, you can wish someone a Glad midsommar / Happy Midsummer!
Some need-to-know Midsommar nouns:
en blomma a flower
→ blomman → blommor → blommorna
(en) midsommarafton Midsummer’s Eve
en midsommarkrans a flower head wreath
(ett) sommarsolstånd Summer Solstice
en midsommarstång Midsummer pole
en snapsvisa a drinking song
Do these verbs on midsommar:
att grilla to grill
→ grillar → grillade → har grillat
att dansa kring midsommarstången
to dance around the Midsummer pole
→ dansar → dansade → har dansat
att fira to celebrate
→ firar → firade → har firat
Eat these classic Midsommar foods:
en jordgubbstårta a strawberry cake
→ tårtan → tårtor → tårtorna
(en) sill herring
en färskpotatis new potatoes
→ potatisen → potatisar → potatisarna
en glass ice cream
Blommor or Bust!
Okay, back to the blommor! As I said before, no midsommar is complete without flowers galore. There are a few specific traditions I wanted to highlight that involve flowers, some of them dating back to pagan times. I did some digging on the history of these customs and found this piece from Nordiska museet, read it fully if you are a history buff like me!
Sju sorters blommor / Seven Types of Flowers
People believed in the magical abilities of plants and it was said that they were most powerful at the Summer Solstice, or midsommar. Folk tradition says that if you pick seven (or even nine) different types of flowers on Midsummer’s eve and place them under your pillow, you’ll dream of your true love. This custom is still widely practiced today!
Midsommarkransar / Midsommar Head Wreaths
Flowery crowns have come into modern summer fashion, but these kransar have roots that date back to pagan times when wearing the crown symbolized fertility and rebirth. Head wreaths were originally inspired by the circular rings that are adorned on the Midsummer pole.
For good health, folks would save and dry their midsommarkrans until Christmastime. Then, taking a bath in water soaked with the midsommar flowers was thought to be somewhat of a vitamin boost in the dead of winter.
Also a widely practiced custom today, both men and women wear these crowns, and it is best if you make it yourself. Traditionally made from birch trimmings and handpicked wildflowers, now folks use more durable store bought flowers for a longer-lasting midsommarkrans. Watch this demo of how to make a midsommarkrans in 15 minutes!
Flädersaft / Elderflower drink
A popular non-alcoholic midsommar drink is saft. This sugary, sweet beverage is made from a syrupy concentrate that is mixed with water and ends up having a lemonade-like consistency. Saft is quite popular to make yourself, popular flavors include blueberry, rhubarb, lingon, and elderberry. You can usually find some saft at IKEA, but here is a recipe if you’d like to make your own!
Did you celebrate midsommar this year? Tell me about what you did below!