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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

This blog has not been forgotten, just unfortunate circumstances. With some extremely hectic last 6 month working and now the last 7 weeks with a slipped disc which effectively have kept me away from the keyboard I have spent more time out walking with the camera.
But now it is time for a proof of life. Looking back I see my last post was about Christmas in the north, so what is better than a post about the complete opposite – Midsummer celebration in the south of Sweden.

poledancing

photo: Dan Freed


Midsummer, or the summer solstice, has been observed in Sweden – and Scandinavia – for centuries. It is first mentioned in the late bronze ages, inscripted on runic stones together with figures dancing in circle. The first observations we don’t know much about, but the pre-christian Northmen did worship the sun, and the summer together with autumn, winter and spring solstice was calculated on a calendar.

Entering the church – With growing Christianity this pagan celebration could not be allowed. In the 14th century catholic nuns unsuccessfully tried to first ban the festivities and later convert it to be a celebration to the birth of John the Baptist – The Swedes continue to celebrate midsummer.
The church persisted and even after Sweden had become Lutheran and the name of the day was changed to St. Johannes day – Swedes still celebrate midsummer.
In many languages this day is called Johns day, Johannes day or Saint Hans, in Sweden it is simply Midsummer.

gettingdressed

Photo: Dan Freed

Todays feasting is a remain from the vikings celebration, a fertility ritual, music and dance with offerings to the sun and earth. In the hole where the flower dressed pole is raised the vikings used to put crops, eggs and milk in hope for a rich harvest and productive livestock. The offerings are long gone, but the music and dance remains. This is probably the most family friendly festivity we have in Sweden. Starting early in the day families with the smallest in strollers with teenagers and the oldest getting together and dressing the pole with leaves and flowers to continue with everybody dancing, singing and laughing.

pole

Photo: Dan Freed

I did not take part of the dancing, I could blame it on my slipped disc or that I was busy with the camera, but the truth is I have been there, done that and I don’t like crowds. And of course midsummer dances are like a workout, there is jumps, curtsey, bow and stretch. I prefer staying on the outside watching. Miss Z on the other hand willingly participated, with flower in her hair she had a great time dancing the classic Swedish summer dances ‘Små grodorna’ (The little frogs) and ‘Tre små gummor’ (Three little old women).

A very nice day, and that was the only unusual thing, by tradition it is supposed to rain. There were clouds, but everybody went home dry – I don’t know what the old Northmen would say about that.

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