Midsummer weekend is over. Celebrating the longest day of the year, the shortest night, light in the sky until the sun rises again. Midsummer is also a celebration of fertility, which is hard to miss considering the shape of the midsummer tree.No wonder the north worships the sun. It is anxiously awaited during the long months of winter and many songs and poems are written with summer at heart. Pillow cases have been embroidered with the Swedish flag flattering in a blue sky and every other family takes their Volvo to a electricity-free summer-house for four weeks in July, following the planet of fishing and barbecue. And the sun’s mysterious ways are interpreted for 10 minutes several times a day after the TV news.
What else comes to mind is drinking. Swedish festivities often are started with drowning some clear hard liquor from small glasses, accompanied by marinated fishy things and beer too cool down the heat. Drinking seldom happens without singing, which gives these traditional holidays a rather musical touch. The entire table gets up and sings a hymn to the little snapsglass with the deepest bass they can find in their throat. I do get a sense of the Vikings standing in a good one of these rounds.
One of the most famous songs is “Helan går” (click here to listen). Even Quincy Jones loves this one. The lyrics say that if you don’t drink the whole shot, you don’t even deserve a half” – and the whole one goes! Shollahoppfallerei”
There are actually many songs with the same basic message: if you don’t drink, you are not fun, no one will love you and you will basically end up with your head in the mud. Talk about group pressure!
Then there are other ones like “Hej Tomtegubbar slå i glaset” – Hej Santa Clauses clink your glasses and let us be funnily behave”. this one is only sung on midsummer night when many snapses have crossed the table or when the library is limited. There is another song, conveniently with the exact same melody – although if you click on these two links it might be hard to recognize it’s actually the same song. This one is a live situation: “Imagine, if I had a little snapsglass down my throat with a thread. I’d pull it up and down so it would feel like there were many more…”
Well I don’t know.
I have witnessed all the dances and traditions portrayed in this banned Ikea commercial, including the small-frog-dance, but in a much softer version, bathed in summer light and in the most pleasant company – who after the dance volunteered to barbecue soya burgers. What more can you want of a white midsummer evening. A glass of pink champagne maybe. In the midnight sun maybe. With girls.- and that I got.
I love midsummer. In spite of all the weird traditions.