Midsummer Eve. The biggest holiday feast next to Christmas here in Sweden. It’s connected to the summer solstice, but since the Midsummer feast always occurs on a Friday they’re not synced.
I’m not going to say much about it and the traditions like the history or the weird frog dance around a pole and such. But food and “nubbe” (untranslatable in English – it’s a nickname for shots) are for sure the number one and most important component when celebrating Midsummer Eve. Well, at least the food. The “nubbe” is not that important or even necessary, although a deep-rooted tradition.
Playing games is also a common activity during Midsummer Eve. The Midsummer Eve traditions we celebrate belongs to the more party and playful generation. Which probably is the most common way to spend this day, in one or another way.
Otherwise, it’s also common that family’s meet up at public arranged Midsummer Eve gatherings. These gatherings don’t include any spirits – they are pure innocent family and friends gatherings of a finer cultural nature.
Basically, Midsummer Eve is a typical family and friends feast holiday. But when the teens are big enough to mind their own business, they usually preferred to celebrate this day on their own. For a reason. Or at least after some hours spent with families, they say thank you and goodbye. Oh my, I remember my teenage Midsummers…
On Midsummer Eve we eat a lot of “sill och potatis” – herring and spring/new potatoes. This is the absolutely most important item on the table – this is the King and Queen. No midsummer without it, don’t you dare. But the herring and potatoes definitely need to be served together with sour cream, chive, red onion, and eggs.
And of course we drink beer to this, and in between, we take our “nubbe”. Small shots of strong spirits spiced and brewed on different herbs. Sometimes accompanied to a short, often a quite odd song called “snapsvisa” – shot-song, and hail “skål” – cheers. “Botten upp” – bottoms up, is also a common expression together with the “skål”.
I’m not very good at shot-songs, but this is the most traditional and famous one:
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
Han heller inte halvan får
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Here’s a link to Wiki with a translation and some background info >> The whole one goes
But it can be something very short, like this – in English:
Not now… Not now…
… But now!
… simple as that. No rules. It doesn’t even have to be a song. Anything stupid will do.
To dessert, we have strawberries with cream and drink coffee. This is just as traditional important as the herring and potatoes. And probably maybe some more shots in between, but this time it’s often something more sweet kind of liquor.
Don’t worry, much booze here, but most people handle the spirits well. But some too happy people easily get really, really drunk and go crazy. Or fall apart in a corner. I don’t lay any other values into this more than people with known repeatedly bad alcohol issues should not be allowed touching it.
After all this eating we usually mingle around and then it’s time for some playtime. It can be just anything. It often involves some kind of physical and playful competition activity. A good and strategic way to shake and fresh up your body and mind after all food, beer, and shots.
Then we rest, keep on mingling. So we can eat some more later. And now it’s time for the next tradition- the barbecue. So we eat, drink beer, maybe some more shots in between. Usually more coffee again. And so it proceeds into the night and as long as there is someone left. Usually, we drop off one by one until Midsummer Eve falls to sleep.
Tied to the Midsummer Eve traditions comes the tradition of remarkably bad weather, spot on no matter how nice it has been just a day before. But the weather is nothing but an annoying detail. Some don’t give a shit, party and having fun outdoors anyway. We are so used to it that even the weather is a part of the tradition.
This year was no exception. But the outdoor games went little too rainy this year and got changed into an indoor quiz instead.
So far, we have had this Midsummer Eve feast tradition since our kids crawled on all four.