Photo: Fredrik Schlyter/Johnér/Image Bank Sweden
If you only know Swedish Midsummer from photos, you probably think of happy people in sunny weather — perhaps also children with flowers in their hair. Something very idyllic, basically. Reality is not always as idyllic, however; real-life Midsummer may bring a fair share of rain, drunkenness and drama.
When we picked photos for our new book Sweden — Up North, Down to Earth, we disagreed on how to illustrate Midsummer. Picture editor Cecilia had found a fantastic photo, fairly similar to the one above: a maypole against the setting Midsummer sun (but that one also had a few people in it). Another colleague thought the backlight made it look too melancholic, too far from the happy–flowery version of Midsummer, I suppose. Nothing wrong with the compromise photo chosen instead (below), but I don’t think it’s quite as dramatic–romantic as the other one.
A page from the book Sweden — Up North, Down to Earth with a photo by Berno Hjälmrud/Link Image.
I think the photo discussion was a natural consequence of the fact that Midsummer is a big deal for most Swedes. Expectations of Midsummer celebrations are often sky-high and disappointment is looming on the horizon. The perfect Midsummer should have the sunniest weather, the best friends and family, the prettiest maypole, the funniest games, the coldest schnapps…
I used to avoid disappointment by simply throwing brilliant parties myself, inviting my equally brilliant friends. Now, unfortunately, most friends live a little too far away, and with Friday June 25 (Midsummer Eve) quickly approaching, I’m actually suffering from some sort of Midsummer stress myself. I plan to cure it with lime and vodka-pickled herring and home-baked strawberry cake on the day, so not to worry. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some sunshine.
At least I’ve put together a pretty much perfect Midsummer page on Sweden.se for you to enjoy. So Happy Midsummer to all of you!
PS. The Swedish Crown Princess’s wedding was almost as nice as my own royal wedding would have been — and they did serve crayfish from the west coast, just as I recommended.