Column: Midsommar | Rio Blanco Herald Times
Sweden has many cultural contributions to America, including Swedish meatballs and the Swedish pop music group ABBA in the 1970s. I know, ancient history. However, some respect is due. Today, the four members of ABBA have a combined net worth of $900 million. They hail from Stockholm and have produced hits all over the world. At one point, people claimed that ABBA paid more income tax to Sweden than car manufacturer Volvo.
MIDSOMMARS is a celebration that the Swedes have exported to America, wherever the Scandinavians have gathered. It’s the longest day of the year (summer solstice) and for me the start of barbecues, hot dogs and potato salads.
In the Scandinavian countries, it is a big party. When Swedes talk about the longest day, they really mean it. Being so far north, their “MIDSOMMARS” day is like 22 hours of sunshine! They pick the weekend closest to the summer solstice and it becomes a three-day holiday. This year, it starts on June 24. They also celebrate with hot dogs, but their sides usually include pickled herring or cucumbers in sour cream. Almost every village holds an outdoor festival, but one of the biggest is held every year in Stockholm. Stockholm is actually a city spread over many islands, an archipelago. Djargardsslantten is the island with the royal palace and several magnificent museums. Technically, the king still owns the entire island and must approve all buildings. The VASA Museum is home to the massive 1628 warship that sank hours after launch. The king had spent a large part of the treasure on the ship and it was said that he was not very happy about it.
We attended a great Midsommars festival held in the Skansen open air museum which has preserved many historic Swedish folk buildings, houses and shops. To reach the Skansen Museum, we passed through several other impressive buildings including, to our surprise, the ABBA Museum! I guess the king was a huge music fan. All Midsommar celebrations in America and Sweden are a burst of blue and yellow, the colors of the Swedish flag. Everyone who owns a traditional folk costume wears it. Young girls weave daisies and other fresh flowers to make wreaths to wear all day. Fiddlers play folk music on fiddles, ornate Hardanger fiddles and accordions. People dance around a type of maypole called a midsommar pole decorated with fresh leaves and flowers. One of the traditional dances is called Sma grodorna, or little frog. Everyone imitates a frog hopping to the sound of music. Lots of laughs and photos. Vendors sell flags, toys and Alg (pronounce something like elk) burgers. The Swedes don’t really have North American elk. They have an abundance of moose as evidenced by the many yellow road signs with a moose outline. SWEDEN WOULD NOT BE SWEDEN WITHOUT THE RED-PAINTED FARMS OR ABBA.
By ED PECK – Special for the Herald Times
Special for the Herald Times