Today we celebrate Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden. The origins of the midsummer celebration is prehistoric, but exactly how old isn’t possible to say. The oldest written source are the Icelandic sagas written during the 13th century where it is said that Olav Trygvasson, a Norwegian king during the final years of the 10th century, abolished the sacrificial beer and instead replaced this with feast beer during Christmas, Easter and Midsummer.
Traditional feasting demands a midsummer’s pole, a cross dressed in flowers and leafs that one should dance around wearing a garland of flowers. A feast also needs food, for many this means new potatoes and pickled herring for lunch and a barbecue at night. This is accompanied with aqua vitae, vodka, beer and wine. While drinking of hard liqueurs, in this case most often schnapps, is often combined with another tradition; drinking songs. Me I’m not much for the pickled herring but I love the rest.
This year we will celebrate with a bunch of friends and their relatives and friends just south of Enköping. They hold a “traditional” (in the sense that they have done so for many years) masquerade at Midsummer, this years theme is Vikings.
(There might be a few pictures for a coming post.)
I will attend as the monk Anskar who is also known as the apostle of the north. In reality he was a monk, a missionary and the arch bishop of Hamburg-Bremen, which included Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Anskar was born in 801 AD and died 865 AD. His successor Rimbert wrote his biography called Vita Ansgari. Where one can read about his two visits to the Viking age city Birka in lake Mälaren some miles west of Stockholm in 829 and 850’s AD. My fiancée will come as my counterpart a heathen or to frank as a sacrificial tree. Together we come as a symbol of the faiths and the war of faiths of that time.
More info on Midsummer’s Eve is just a click away.
I wish you all a happy Midsummer’s Eve I’m pretty sure I will.