Midsummer is one of the highlights of the year at Skansen. Our celebrations last for three entire days. Visitors help in making garlands of flowers for the maypole which they raise together with Skansen Folk Dance Team.
Traditional fiddlers play for the ring dances which are followed by singing, games and dancing round the maypole. In the evening there is a folk dance display and you can dance yourself on Skansen's outdoor dance floors.
Midsummer at Skansen is highly popular and attracts a huge crowd every year. You can be certain of a lively time with traditional Swedish entertainments and plenty of fun. Midsummer's Eve is, with Christmas, the most popular festival in Sweden. Just as in other parts of Europe the festival centred round an ancient agricultural ritual involving the entire village. Elsewhere the villagers made a great bonfire but in these latitudes the lightest night of the year was not the right time for dancing around a fire! So the bonfires were replaced by another ancient summer tradition; that of the maypole. Maypoles are believed to be part of an old fertility rite, the pole being a phallus that "impregnates" Mother Nature. It was hoped that properly celebrating this rite would help to give a good harvest in the autumn.
Midsummer night was also believed to be a time of powerful and secret forces. Everything was animated: the dew, the flowers, the twigs of the trees and the water in the wells. People also claimed that if a young woman placed a bouquet of seven or nine different flowers (the traditions vary) under her pillow that night she would dream of her future love. She must remain alone while picking the flowers and observe total silence. A flower from the churchyard increased the magical powers of the bouquet, as did picking flowers from the banks of three different roads at a crossroads.
Midsummer today is a national holiday in Sweden. Families and friends meet and eat pickled herring and new potatoes washed down with schnapps and beer. Camping is a popular activity at this lovely time of the year while numerous people flee the cities for their summer cottages. Wherever people live they seek out a place where a maypole is raised and there is dancing and games – like the famous 'frog dance' (små grodorna) - for the children. Midsummer is celebrated in Sweden on the weekend closest to June 24.