Growing up in Sweden and celebrating at least 25 midsummer celebrations is a hard habit to break. Midsommarafton is probably the most celebrated nonofficial holiday in Sweden, landing always on a Friday between June 19 and 25. It is usually close to the longest day of the year, summer solstice.
The festivities are at all costs held outdoors; however, this is Sweden’s rainy season, so rain in some format is to be expected. Party tents are up, and emergency sunrooms cleaned out. The temperature doesn’t matter to Swedes. They wear winter coats and blankets if required, but celebrating outdoors is a must. If you are beyond lucky, you will have a beautiful and sunny 70-degree day.
Usually you celebrate with the same people year after year, the same neighbors, friends or family members. As a child, we always went to a retreat that my parents’ folk dancing club owned, and we would perform every midsummer evening in our folk dancing costumes at a big festival.
We eat “sill and potatis” or herring and plain boiled potatoes. The herring comes in different varieties, pickled simply or with onions or mustard sauce. For the guests that don’t eat sill, there are meatballs, mini sausages, cheese, hard-bread and boiled eggs.