Midsummer’s Eve…

…is Sweden’s biggest festival of the year, a celebration of summer, the longest day, flowers, life, friends and family. It’s a time we’ve been looking forward to from early on, glad that we’d still be here to see it. It was today! First, though, Monica and Björn-Ola and 3 of their 4 children came over to drop off most of their belongings from their 6-month sojourn in England. It was great to meet the kids and to see their excitement about being back in their own house after half a year in much closer quarters, and to visit with the grown-ups while helping them move their stuff inside and move the outdoor furniture outside.

Making floral wreaths for Midsummer’s Eve Festival

After they left, I started making the floral garlands we would wear at the festival. I’d been told after my last massage about what happens at the Midsummer’s Eve Festival. Everybody makes a floral garland that morning to wear while they dance around a maypole singing a silly song about a little frog…the lyrics translate along the lines of “Little frogs are funny…they have no ears or tails.” They told me, in detail, how to make the garlands. It involved using lots of wire, which seemed to me to be an invitation to get poked in the scalp! “Do the men wear flowers in their hair, too?” I asked. “Absolutely,” they said, “…although they might not like it.” I started by cutting long, flexible branches off a shrub I’ve been admiring for its profuse pink blooms. I braided the stems together, along with some long stems of leaves, and wove in other flowers to fill any gaps. The garlands looked pretty, in a gaudy sort of way. Kind of like a Gay 90s hat, without the hat. Or may be Kentucky Derby hat without the hat. The second was definitely better than the first, but it fell down over my face, so Harry got to wear that one.

Wearing our freshly-made floral garlands in front of Rosaura’s hedge

Unfortunately, I finished them around 12:30, and we weren’t quite sure how to make them last until the 3:00 festival! I thought of putting them in a casserole dish of water to hydrate, but Harry nixed that right away: no way was he sticking a soaking wet garland on his head to go to an outdoor party on a windy day! Point taken. So we put them on the table in the atrium, where I spritzed them with water a couple of times. All I can say is, it’s a good thing we took pictures of ourselves right away (even though in the pictures it’s hard to see where the garlands leave off and the background shrubs begin), because by the time of the festival they were looking a bit sad. Oh, well. It’s a party, not a fashion show.

3:00, time to walk down the street to the soccer field for the festivities. Harry commented that he’d seen several people heading that way, and none of them had flowers on. We wore ours anyway. Hey, if we’re the only ones there with garlands, then I guess we’ll win the prize, right? Well, we weren’t the only ones, but we were in the minority; and I’m pretty sure Harry was the only male wearing flowers. He was a good sport, though, and kept it on until we got home. (I took mine off after the dancing.) For the most part the others wearing garlands were either pre-schoolers or…young ladies of an eligible age. And ours were definitely unique! That’s a positive spin on “I made the garlands all wrong.” The others were much tamer, and quite pretty, actually. And somehow, I don’t know how, none of their flowers wilted! I do think our garlands were more in the bacchanalian spirit than the tidier ones. Maybe that goes with Swedes being shy. At any rate, the little girl in the photo on the right has a more typical garland in her hair.

Maypole

But what about the maypole? Is it, or is it not, a maypole? Harry came home from work saying it wasn’t really a maypole that they danced around, which had me calling it a pole dance (wink, wink); but that’s not exactly the right connotation, either, is it? So here’s our picture of today’s maypole. (They do call it that, whether it’s what we think of as a maypole or not!) And we did dance around it. All I can say is, it was something like the Hokey Pokey and the Funky Chicken: forget about propriety, just have a good time!

Little Frogs are Funny.
They have no ears or tails.

So we did have a good time. Jägervallen’s Midsummer’s Eve Festival was definitely the family-friendly version. No drinking, no orgies. I had thought it would last into the evening, but we were back home before 5. I’m so glad we got to be here for it, that we participated in it fully, and that we got to do it as a family with our Swedish neighbors.

Melissa

PS We’re in our final countdown to departure: one week from today we take the train to Stockholm, and we fly home on Saturday, June 30. We can’t believe it’s almost over, and as good as it will be to see our friends, to sleep in our own bed, and to have a microwave again, we’re just as sad we can’t stay here longer!

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About harrynmelissa

We are enjoying a Swedish Adventure--5 months in Linköping, Sweden, where Harry is conducting research under a Fulbright Scholarship. He and a collaborator are trying to create a compound which can be used for radiologic imaging to diagnose neuro-degenerative diseases earlier, when they are more treatable. We arrived on January 26 (halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox) and will be here until June 30 (a week past the Summer Solstice), and are writing about our experience of Swedish life "up close and personal."
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