And a blessed day to you all!!
In Sweden, as in many places up north, this season, the brightest day of the year, we have been celebrating since the middleages. Not in this fashion, but celebrating. Friends on Ireland tells about bonfires on St Johns day. Well, we are not all heathens up here but the connection with John the baptist have gone missing , I'm afraid. The date of celebration, 23 of june, was kept until 1952 when the unions wanted a more convenient day . The result was that Midsummereve always occurs on a friday , having Midsummersday moving around 19-23 of june. The so called Maypole, shaped nowadays as a cross with flowered rings, intially came from Germany in the late middleages, at the time just a pole, no cross. The bonfires were lit for quite a long time, but today we don't. All bonfires are lit at Valborg!! These pictures are all taken yesterday in our village, the flowered cross is a good example of engagement and good neighbours. Local talents handle the fiddle, the accordion and the guitar, singing and playing old folkloredances, not, however, the ones discribed by the monks in late middleages....
Strawberries in vast quantities are consumed during this weekend, with creem, icecreem or in pies and cakes. But the most important item on the dinnertable is the herring, pickled in a very special way to fit the swedish taste for salty fish. Most popular is the Matjessill, served with fresh potatoes, sourcreme and chive. Together with beer and several small glasses of flavoured vodka, so called snaps, yes the very same in german!! Unfortunately, this weekend is known for its severe drinking.
At its best, you can spend many bright hours outdoors with friends and family, way into midnight, only disturbed by mosquitos and the smoke from 110 barbecuemasters in 110 surrounding gardens.
Last night gave us such a clear sky, only to turn into turmoil some hours later when the thunderstorm returned. There will be more of that they say....
We spent the day with the neighbours and the traditional strawberrycake you see in the picture, dancing in the village and then travelling a few miles to other friends, the herring, the potatoes, the next strawberrycake and some good laughs and lots of singing in the sunset.
In the gardens the swedish flag flies by the summerbreeze, there was hardly any this day and the dance was a swetty experience. May of our newcommers stood amazed in the shadow, watching the peculiar swedes jumping around like mad, crying out noices to imitate frogs, pigs, old ladies, fiddles and rockets. Since midsummer in folklore is connected with magic, many of the dances are about meeting the right one. In the bright night the girls are to pick seven wild flowers to put under the pillow, in order to dream about the husband to be. There also was a tradition of walking seven times around a well in the middle of the night to see him. Keeping the flowers and put them in the christmas bath would make you strong.... oooh dear! Well, many of the children from all over the world joined in the dancing being rewarded with lots of laughter and an icecreamcone.
With any luck, you can watch real professional dancers like these from Orsa in the county of Dalarna. The musicians are called Orsa spelmanslag, often being heard with Benny Andersson, like in the video underneath this first one.
Benny Andersson from Abba takes great pleasure in creating new folkloremusic!
Today we relax in the garden, awaiting the eveningservice in church, always surrounded by that very typical and somewhat melancholic swedish music. I will add two examples that I associate with summer and especially this time of the year. For the poor St John however, we have no really catchy tunes. Hymns we have one or two, but somehow the very thought of him makes people either frown or look bewildered. The great mission he had is not to be forgotten, so even if I really love both the music, the strawberries and the herring, I feel strongly about him. Such an important burden to carry, such courage to be the voice that calls in the desert!!! Blessed be St John indeed, making way for the Saviour!!!