Sunday, June 22, 2014

Return To Sweden, Part 18

This 18th installment update submitted by David Anderson documents the 2014 Midsummer celebration in Grytnäs, Sweden.
If you missed the near real time trip updates webpage, go to Trip Highlights .  Editor

20 June, Friday

It is Mid-Summers day, when all of Sweden has the day off to celebrate the sun’s northern most reach in to the northern hemisphere.  This is an event that goes back to the dawn of human awareness that the seasons change.  There is a time of light, a time for dark; a time for growth, a time for harvest; a time for work, a time for rest; a time to celebrate life.

Throughout the country from cities to the smallest villages people celebrate the longest day of light.  In six months, in the darkest days of winter, the promise of longer days of light will be celebrated when select girls wear candles in their hair.  These are celebrations that mark the changing of the seasons.  Mid-summers is a joyous celebration of life. 

We went to Grytnäs parish’s Hembygsgård to watch the festivities.  Cars lined the narrow country roads as they were throughout the country.   Hembygsgården, for those who don’t know are local open air museums that preserve historically important buildings.  Several of the buildings were open, including a great example of a farm house, where a few books of local interest were being sold.  I had to obtain a ‘new’ book for my library at home, a book published in 1953 titled “Grytnäs Socken”.   It will take me awhile to use a letter opener to finish the job the printer didn’t do since the book wasn’t trimmed after binding.


Here's a link to part of the Midsummers video:

After watching the maypole going up, traditional dancing, and everyone dancing around the maypole we went home to gather with friends, eat a fine meal that included locally produced ham, smoked bacon, and freshly made pickled herring, and just a little drinking of beer and locally made vodka (otherwise known as moonshine in the U.S.). 


The party had an international flavor with people from Israel, Great Britain and the U.S.  Sweden in some respects is also a nation of recent immigrants.   A great time was had by all on the evening of the longest day of the year in Sweden.  It was a special time to celebrate Mid-Summers in the home of my ancestors.
David Anderson

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