When is Midsummer Day?
This Swedish public holiday (Midsommardagen) is celebrated each year on the Saturday falling between 20–26 June. The actual date of Midsummer's day and the Summer Solstice may vary between the 20-21 June.
It has become one of the most important holidays in Sweden. Festivities start on the Friday before - Midsummer's Eve (Midsommarafton).
Similar to New Year's celebration, the main celebrations take place on the eve of the day. Traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge maypole. Many people will wear traditional folk costumes and listen to traditional music. It is also a holiday on which the Swedish will consume a large amount of alcohol and raucous drinking songs are a common sound during the celebrations.
Midsummer was considered to be one of the key times in the year when the power of magic was strongest and at it was thought to be a good time to perform rituals, particulary those which related to predicting the future. A tradition of this is one in which young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse.
Did you know?
The word Solstice comes from the Latin ‘solstitium’ meaning ‘Sun stands still’ because the movement of the Sun’s path north or south appears to stop before changing direction
Even though the major fertility rites in ancient times, center around the beginning of spring, Midsummer was linked to an ancient fertility festival, as conception at this time would lead to a birth in March, which was traditionally seens as a good time for children to be born.
In Christianity, Midsummer Day is associated with the nativity of John the Baptist, which is observed on the same day, June 24, in the Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches.