Swedish Language Blog

Midsommar: Blommor or Bust! Posted by on Jun 24, 2020 in Culture, Living in Sweden, Swedish Language, Uncategorized, Vocabulary

“Midsommar Celebration.” Stefan Berg/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

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 

Doris Beling/Folio/imagebank.sweden.se

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.

Lena Granefelt/imagebank.sweden.se

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! 

Swedish Elderflower lemonade, syrup or cordial (flädersaft)

Did you celebrate midsommar this year? Tell me about what you did below! 

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About the Author: Chelsea B

Chelsea is a Swedish language instructor and translator living in Minnesota, U.S. She has a degree in Scandinavian Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and has experience living and working in Sweden from north to south! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, hiking, listening to music, and practicing slöjd, the Swedish word for handcraft.