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Tag Archives: midsummer

The Only Aquavit Song You Need

June 21, 2018 | Leave a comment

Lyrics – ‘Helan Går’ Aquavit Song

Because when Swedes party, they party with drinking songs. Aquavit songs, specifically. This is a popular one – we have included the original lyrics as well as the phonetic English ones (ie. how it sounds).

Helan går

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Phonetic version – sing as you read it:

Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley
Oh handsome in the hell and tar
and hell are in the half and four
Hell and gore, Chung hop father Allan ley


Skål!

Midsummer in Scandinavia

June 19, 2018 | Leave a comment

 

Midsummer in Scandinavia

Midsummer, to Swedes especially, is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. In Sweden, the date moves each year, as it is an official holiday – and it is always celebrated on a Friday. With the official midsummer day of the year being 23 June, it is always moved to the closest Friday (for 2018, this is 22 June and 21 June for 2019). In Denmark and Norway, the date doesn’t move – it is always celebrated on the evening of 23 June.

In Sweden, Midsommar is simply known as that, whereas in Denmark and Norway
the name has changed to St Hans Aften (‘St John’s Eve’). That’s the official name, although it’s also known as Midsommer.

As the longest day of the year, midsummer was a very important day in the pagan
calendar. The Vikings used this night to visit healing water wells and had huge bonfires to ward off evil spirits. These celebrations go back to Freyia and Freyr, the Norse gods of fertility. The Vikings worshipped fertility on this day – and hoped for a rich harvest.

Today, you see the remains of these old traditions both in Sweden and Denmark.
Sweden’s midsummer symbol is now a midsummer pole, Midsommarstång, decorated with flowers. (It was originally a Maypole, likely brought over from Germany, but there weren’t enough flowers to decorate it in May so it is now used in June instead.) In Denmark and Norway (and parts of Finland), the bonfires won out and are still the main symbol of midsummer.

In Sweden, schools and offices close and it is the time for friends and families to get together. People wear flower garlands in their hair; some wear traditional dresses or just long, light-coloured dresses. Younger men wear traditional accepted Stockholm clothing for Swedish dudes: light-coloured, tight trousers, pointy shoes, fashionable sunglasses and slicked-back hair. Maybe a crown of flowers.

The flower garlands are a major part of the outfit. Most people make their own while
sitting in a field, waiting to celebrate and for someone to crack open the aquavit. People gather wild flowers and the garlands are made for grown-ups as well as children. This adds to the picture-perfect setting – everything becomes wonderfully colourful and happy, as people sit in nature and enjoy the lightest day of the year.

Thus properly attired, they gather to raise the midsummer pole, which is decorated with more flowers and leaves and can be anything from small poles in private
gardens to massive poles in the town centers.

Where food is concerned, everybody brings a picnic or has a midsummer lunch together. Lunch always consists of pickled herring, new potatoes with dill, meatballs, cheese… Not dissimilar to food at other Swedish celebrations, but with a lot more strawberries, as these are usually just in season when midsummer comes around. This is also a big day for smörgåstårta – a popular dish for high seasons. Essentially, this is a massive sandwich made with white bread, covered in a litre of mayonnaise and decorated in the best 1980’s style. Then eaten like a cake, by the slice. With this, people enjoy aquavit, in shots (nubbe). Roughly one shot to every two beers and Bjørn will be playing footsie with Gunhilde before you know it.

Drinking songs, such as ‘Helan går’, are sung, shots are enjoyed and after a few of those, almost everybody will feel ready to dance. Don’t worry if you can’t sing songs in Swedish, after two or three nubbar, people automatically develop a peculiar singsong fluency in Swedish. The party then gathers around the midsummer pole to hold hands and starts to run around in circles, pretending to be little frogs with no ears and tail. This is the traditional Swedish song – sung at every party – called ‘Små grodarna’ (the ‘Little Frogs’). If you are ever invited to join in, you must oblige. It would be rude not to and nobody feels embarrassed about this dance. Once it’s over, you’ll be allowed to get back to more food and aquavit.

The afternoon is usually spent playing games, such as Kubb (Viking chess) and an odd version of rounders called Bränball. When people have finished eating and playing, the dancing continues – as does the drinking. The party will go on until last man standing, with darkness never setting on this lightest day of the year.

On this night, it is also tradition to pick seven different kinds of wild flowers. Put them under your pillow before going to bed and you will dream of the person you will marry. This makes Tinder-swiping a whole lot easier as you will now know what he or she looks like.

In Denmark and Norway, people are a little more controlled in their midsummer celebrations. It is not a public holiday and, while it is still a big celebration, it is by no means as big as in Sweden. The celebrations centre around big bonfires, usually by the shore or in town centres. Bonfires, originally intended to ward off evil spirits, have become slightly warped in Denmark over the years. Nowadays, they signify the burning of witches. Each bonfire has a witch made out of straw, dressed in old ladies’ clothing and stuffed with whistle crackers. The fire is lit and everybody waits for the witch to catch fire, the whistles signifying her screams. Legend has it that, by doing this, you send the witch off to the Brocken mountain in Germany to dance with the Devil.

As they watch the witch burn, people sing songs about how much they love Denmark. There is usually a guy with a guitar and no socks. He plays songs slowly, with his eyes closed. There may or may not be skinny dipping. At midsummer in Denmark, kids will usually be making snobrød (‘twist bread’) – its bread dough wrapped around .a twig and baked on the fire. Except it never bakes, so you everyone ends up with a stomach ache from eating raw dough covered in jam. The fire ends and people go home. Unlike Sweden, this isn’t a massive party, but a much calmer affair (save the burning of witches, of course; some may find this rather sinister).

From the dancing and the ancient traditions to the seasonal food and togetherness, Midsummer in Scandinavia is an enchanted time and writing about it doesn’t do it full justice. The light is entirely spellbinding – and it’s something to be experienced. The day after Midsummer in Sweden, in particular, is a whole different ball game – and it’s yours alone to deal with. The ‘where are my shoes?’ questions will inevitably start to be pondered on. Who are you? Who am I?

For anyone who has partaken of a traditional Swedish Midsummer, the day after is likely to be long – and very slow. But you’ll always have the memories.

Or not.

ScandiKitchen is celebrating Midsummer – we even have a Midsummer pole and every year, we have to stop drunken Swedes from trying to walk off with it. All part of the fun. Stock up on your Midsummer foods in our London grocery store open every week day until 19:00 and Saturday until 18:00. Online here www.scandikitchen.co.uk

Extract MIDSUMMER taken from our Bronte’s best selling book Nørth: how to live Scandinavian, published by Aurum, with stunning photography by Anna Jacobsen. Get your copy on Amazon – it has everything you need to know to live a Scandi life, from Hygge to Lagom to how to wear a Norwegian jumper.

Available in Italian here
Available in German here
Available in French here

In America? Get it here.

In Canada? Get it here?

Get it signed here (or pop by the cafe in London, Bronte will be super happy to sign it for you and have a chit chat if she is around. She is not at all scary)

‘Små Grodorna’ song – Midsummer

June 18, 2018 | Leave a comment

picture credit: talldungen.se

 


 

Dance like a frog and celebrate Swedish midsummer

No, we don’t know why either – but dancing around the beautiful midsummer pole like little frogs is a thing. There is no escaping it, when you celebrate Swedish midsummer, you dance around pretending to be a frog. So there. You might as well embrace it and learn the lyrics! First, the Swedish – second a commonly used (well…commonly is relative) English version.

 

Swedish:

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

 


 

English:

The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
The little frogs, the little frogs are funny to observe.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
No ears, no ears, no tails do they possess.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack,
kou ack ack ack ack kaa.

 

Happy Midsummer!

Celebrating? Check out our ready to go Picnic box to bring to the park – or our huge selection of Swedish midsummer foods from herring and aquavit to meatballs and cinnamon buns.

Lyrics found all over the internet – we are merely repeating them from wikipedia which has lots of translations should you want them.

How to do a Scandi Midsummer at Home

June 12, 2018 | Leave a comment

How to do a Scandi Midsummer at Home

Midsummer is one of the most important days in the Nordic calendar – especially for the Swedes where it is a huge holiday (and hangover).

Here’s a guide on how to make your own Swedish Midsummer Buffet and celebrations at home.

When to celebrate

Swedes always move Midsummer to the nearest Friday for Summer Solistice. This year that means Friday 22nd June. This day is a holiday in Sweden and everybody will be out all day celebrating in the sunshine (read: rain). When celebrating abroad, most move it to the Saturday (23rd June in 2018) so we can benefit from a full day of sitting outside, hoping it will not rain.

How to set the scene

Flowers and green stuff. Everywhere. Outside is preferable – in a park, in your garden, by a lake or even on your balcony if you have no outside space. Midsummer is all about the outdoors.

What to wear

Something light in colour, flowers in your hair. Real flower garlands are a must for all! Be at one with nature (avoid walking around naked – that’s too much. Especially before the first bottle of aquavit has been opened).

What to eat

Make a Smörgåsbord buffet or a picnic (Smörgåsbord just means ‘laid out table – a buffet). Both will contain the same sort of foods. We have added ** for things that are essential – the other stuff are fillers: add as many as you fancy or have time to do.

• Pickled herring** (Mustard herring and Matjes Herring are two solid choices). Recipe for Mustard herring is here or get it ready to serve here. Arrange in bowls, decorate with onions rings on top and dill sprigs.

• Gubbröra – boiled egg with pickled sprats. Eat with crispbread. Find the recipe in our first cookbook.

• Gravad Lax cured salmon and Dill & Mustard Sauce ** (goes well with rye bread)

Västerbotten Quiche – a beautiful Swedish cheese pie, perfect eaten cold. Top with caviar sauce (red lumpfish roe mixed with a few large spoonsfuls of crème fraiche or sour cream). If you can’t be bothered to make the quiche, just serve the cheese on its own with a dollop of cloudberry jam. Or, like us – do both! Cheese pie with a side of cheese.

• New potatoes ** – Cook and cool down, dress with melted butter and fresh dill. When you serve them, you do so with a bowl of what Swedes call Gräddfill on the side – it’s similar to crème fraiche – but lighter. You can get the exact same thing by mixing half natural yoghurt and half crème fraiche (or simply buy your gräddfill from us here). Add lots of chopped chives with the gräddfill, too – essential. A great match for Matjes herring. Here is a recipe for a simple potato and dill salad.

• Swedish Meatballs**. Well, you didn’t think you could avoid meatballs, did you? You can find a recipe on how to make your own here. We stock some really delicious ones, too – very meaty and with just the right spice from a slow food producer called Per I Viken (budget 2-3 meatballs per person of these – they are quite filling). If you use the smaller supermarket variety, budget about 120g per person.

• Beetroot Salad** It wouldn’t be Midsummer without a good beetroot salad. You can find a recipe here – or get your hands on our own version here. If you pop by the café, we’ll usually be able to sell some of our homemade salad to you by the kilo, also, if you ask nicely.

• Extra salads – if you fancy making a more elaborate spread, try the Courgette & Västerbotten salad here or the Curried cauliflower with rye grain for something different? Or even a nice fresh kale salad with apple here – or how about a lovely slaw?

• This Beetroot Tart is a fab veggie option that both tastes and looks stunning.

• Bread **. Make a bread basket of lovely crispbread, rye bread and crusty bread so there is something for everyone.

• Cheeses – if you want to add a cheese selection, we recommend Västerbotten (truly a phenomenal cheese, especially with Cloudberry jam on top), and then an Åseda – a mild, super creamy cheese that everyone loves. You can also perhaps add a bit of Danish cheese – the Riberhus with caraway is lovely and has a good bite to it. Don’t forget you need cheese slicers.

• Dessert has to incorporate strawberries** – that’s the law. The more strawberries the better. In Sweden, most people will make a strawberry layer cake – 3 sponge or genoise sponge layers, with half pastry cream half whipped cream in the middle. Add chopped strawberries in side in the layers, and cover the whole thing in more strawberries. An easier option of Strawberries and cream also works! Here’s the cheat’s version for the cake and the full recipe.

What to drink

Aquavit** is needed for your cheering and singing – for Midsummer, the delicious light Elderflower aquavit is great (Hallands Fläder) or try the most traditional OP Andersson. Serve slightly chilled in shot glasses. Be warned, it gets you drunk from the waist down.

Here’s a link to the songs you need to know for the aquavit cheering:

Aquavit Songs (Snapsvisor) for Midsummer

Also, serve nice beers (God Lager, Tuborg, Lapin Kulta etc) – and wine, if preferred, but this is less traditional (and doesn’t work so well with aquavit, so do be careful of who you’re playing footsie with under the table).

A nice non-alcoholic drink is Elderflower or Lingonberry Cordial – great both with still and sparkling water.

How to arrange the table and buffet if you’re having the party at home and not in a park:

If arranging on a separate Smörgåsbord buffet table (recommended for 10 people or more), always arrange the fish at one end, starting with the herring, followed by any other fish dishes. Follow it with cold meats, then warm meats, side dishes and finally bread and butter. Cheese can be placed by the bread section or served separately at the end as a cheese board. Dessert is not usually brought out until the main smörgåsbord has been eaten.

Always start with herring and a shot of aquavit (butter some rye bread or crisp bread, add a few slices of herring on top, eat with a knife and fork, drink a shot of aquavit, and everybody cheers together). After a few sing songs, tuck into the rest of the meal.

Glad Midsommar!

PS if you’re still in doubt on what to do, here’s a Midsummer for Dummies guide:

Seven things about Nordic Midsummer

June 1, 2018 | 1 Comment

 

Seven things about Nordic Midsummer

The longest day of the year is very important to us Northern people. We have light! And not only that, we have so much of it we hardly see dark and we get to make up for all of those months of candle lit cosiness and snow.

We all celebrate the day slightly differently, so here are a few facts to get you started in the preparations.

Sweden treats Midsummer like it’s national day. Actually, Sweden’s national day is a few weeks earlier, but everybody celebrates Midsummer instead. It’s always celebrated on the closest Friday (this year, 22nd June) and it’s a public holiday.

In London, it’s celebrated on the Saturday because we need to not be at work when we do it – this year the 23rd of June.

In Denmark and Norway the evening is celebrated on the actual day (23rd June, no matter if it’s a Friday or not) and there, it’s called St John’s Eve as well as Midsommer Aften – Sankthans or Sankthansaften. In Finland it is commonly known as Juhannus or also Midsommar.

Sweden and Finland celebrate with Midsummer poles. These are a bit like May Poles, except it’s not May and ours have a lot of fertility symbols associated with them. The Midsummer poles are covered in flowers and greenery. Everybody wears flower garlands in their hair and very summery clothes. Some Swedish people try the yellow/blue flag combo for clothes, but it is rarely a good look. You’ll also see little flags on the table – adding to the festive feeling.

Danes burn witches on Midsummer eve. Much like the British burn Guy Fawkes, the Danes like to burn witches on this evening and send them off to Blue Mountain in Germany to dance with the devil. All while the (usually stuffed hay effigy) witches are burning on the bonfire, Danes sing songs about how much they love Denmark (usually a lone guy on a guitar will lead the singing – he always sings with his eyes closed and is very serious).

It’s still all about food. For the Swedes, it is all about the day long picnic and being outside. Meatballs are featured and it is high season for Sandwich cakes, too. The Danes tend to celebrate in the evening with dinner at home, but spend the evening trying to bake stick bread on the embers of the bon fire (it never works), and in Norway people will either have a picnic on the fjord (in a boat or on the beach) or have hot dogs around the bonfire. (For a classic midsummer picnic, you can check out our midsummer selection here.) In Finland Midsummer often marks the beginning of the summer holidays – so many Finns celebrate in their summer house by a lake, perhaps sipping a few Lonkero whilst soaking up the midnight sun.. aaand relax.

What about the little frogs? The Swedes, at every given opportunity but none more so than Midsummer, will sing songs about little frogs with no ears and no tails, whilst jumping around the Midsummer pole. Old, young, everyone. It’s a thing and it looks odd – but it is super fun. Do join in.

Swedes and Norwegians pick seven wild flowers on Midsummer eve and put them under their pillow. They will dream of the person they will marry. Some don’t even wait that long, as the birth rate spikes in Sweden every year exactly nine months after Midsummer.

There are Midsummer events held all over the UK – both Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian. Local churches are a good place to start for information on where to go.

There is no big official London picnic (there never is – it’s all a bit spontaneous) but people tend to gather in patches in the different parks and just bring a picnic. Ask local Scandies for details or just wander around and look for the people with flowers in their hair. You’ll find them.

If you fancy a picnic in the park we offer a ready made midsummer picnic box here – and if you’re hosting at home you can find everything you need here.

Aquavit Songs (Snapsvisor) for Midsummer

June 22, 2017 | Leave a comment

 

Swedish Midsummer Drinking songs ‘Snapsvisor’

 

Going to a Midsummer party with some Swedes? You will be asked to dance, like a frog. You may also be asked to sing songs in Swedish. This is very easy once you have had some aquavit (it makes you fluent) – but to begin with, it can be tricky. Here are a few of the easier songs to get you started – and there is even one in phonetics.

Enjoy!

Midsummer in Norway – Celebrating St. Hans Eve

June 16, 2016 | Leave a comment

Midsummer in Norway – Celebrating St. Hans (St. John’s)

Midsummer is usually not called midsummer in Norway, but St. Hans after the evangelist John (called Johannes in Norwegian; Hans is the shortened form). Originally two separate celebrations, they have now – for most people – merged into one.

St. Hans day is the 24th of June every year, and the celebrations are held on St. Hans’ eve – the 23rd. It is not a national holiday – but most people mark it in some way or another. Traditionally celebrated with a huge bonfire, or out on the fjord if you’re lucky enough to have a boat or know someone who does.

sthans-norge-midsummer-norway


 

Bonfires are set up in many neighbourhoods, and is usually accompanied by a barbecue feast and beers – hot dogs in lompe, with ketchup, mustard and crispy onions.

 

Ice cream for afters (often, the inaccurately named Kroneis (Norway’s cornetto – name translated to 10p-ice cream, but it costs the equivalent to £2).

kroneis midsummer norway

 


 

 

A typical St. Hans celebrations often includes playing games – here are some of our favourites:

Egg-racing; race each other whilst balancing an egg on a spoon held in your mouth (hardboiling the egg beforehand makes it easier – but it’s more fun when you risk it with a raw one!)

Egg race Norway

Helmet and protective glasses optional.


Sack-race, individual and in relay teams – 
Racing each other by attempting to jump a (straight) distance in sacks. Also popular on 17. mai;

Sack race - sekkelop norway

A LOT harder than it looks. Face-plant almost guaranteed.


Three-legged race – 
We’re not sure exactly how popular this is (outside yours truly’s childhood neighbourhood) – but nevertheless super fun.
Rules: Find a partner. Tie your right leg to their left leg (or the other way around) so you have to move as if you were one person with three legs. Confused? Good. Race against others with the same set-up. It is fun, we promise.
Three-legged race Noreway midsummer

Swedish Midsummer – How To Celebrate – Therese’s Way

June 9, 2016 | Leave a comment

Swedish Midsummer – How I Celebrate

Swedes all over Love midsummer (you might have seen Alicia Vikander on Jimmy Fallon..? If not, we’ve included the clip for you below). There are many ways to celebrate, and this week, our Thérèse shares her way of celebrating. Over to you, T!

” Hej! I am Thérèse and I’m located in Stockhome. I recently moved to London from Sweden. It doesn’t matter where I am this time of year – I always celebrate midsummer.

10_7_Conny_Fridh_108292_RGB_300DPI

Photo credit: Conny Fridh/imagebank.sweden.se

Midsummer for me is all about having fun, celebrating with friends and eat a lot of food. I often celebrate the holiday on the actual midsummer eve (this year – 24th June) ‘midsommarafton’ – but it really depends on when my friends are free to celebrate.

Growing up I spent most of my summers in the summerhouse in the west of Sweden, and we would usually go to the closest local midsummer event to celebrate there. These days the place of the celebration varies – either in a park or at someone’s house – usually the friend with the best garden. One thing remains the same wherever though – flower garlands in my hair. It’s essential.

Making_midsummer_flower_garlands-06

 

What do we eat at midsummer?

Food is of course very important during midsummer. My friends and I often prepare a buffet together. We cook most of the food ourselves but we usually buy some things, like nibbles, ready made. That way we can nibble whilst we cook and take our time with it. We usually get snacks like sour cream and onion crisps, dill crisps, cheese corn snacks and some beer to drink.

The buffet has certain ‘rules’ to it – the first round is all about herring and bread. Having a good range of herring is essential. My favourites have always been the mustard herring, onion herring and the herring in roe, but a good midsummer spread usually includes even more – such as dill herring or herring in curry (You can browse our range of herring here).

We also have a variety of crispbread, rye bread and polar bread – as well as new potatoes boiled in a lot of dill. We eat the potatoes sliced up on your bread of choice with a bit of herring. With this we also serve cured or smoked salmon; seafood salad is also always included in our buffet. I like to top my salmon sandwiches with dill and mustard sauce.

In addition to the herring and fish, we often have a barbecue with different meats, spicy sausages and new-potato salad and chips with Vasterbotten cheese – lovely with a fresh dip! To drink we have lagers (beer) and aquavit. Of course, in true Swedish fashion, we have to sing some drinking songs.

Finally we’ll have a lovely strawberry cake (we have a nice recipe – click through to view) and perhaps some of our favourite sweets and chocolates. If we feel really merry we might search for a midsummer pole to do some embarrassing little frog dancing around.”

Don’t know what Frog Dancing  is? Have a look below, where the Oscar winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander shows Jimmy Fallon how it’s done. Happy Midsummer all!

 

To read more about Swedish midsummer – click here.

To visit our Midsummer Shop for all the foods and snacks you need, click here.

 

WIN a Big Midsummer Bundle!

| Leave a comment

WIN a Big Midsummer Bundle!

Are you Swedish, or just a big fan of all things yellow and blue (this includes meatballs, herring and aquavit)? Then you might just want to win yourself our huge midsummer spread bundle!

Whether you plan on heading to the park, your balcony or snuggle up in the sofa – this bundle contains everything you need for a lovely Swedish midsummer; Our favourite sourdough crispbread, meatballs, herring, salmon, vasterbotten cheese, our own deli salads, a bottle aquavit and some yummy cinnamon buns (kanelgifflar) to round it all off. Yum!

Swedish Midsummer Picnic

To be in with a chance of winning, simply answer this super easy question:

How many flowers do you put under your pillow to dream about your future husband/wife?

A. 3
B. 10
C. 7

Send your answer by email to iloveherring@scandikitchen.co.uk before Tuesday 14th June 2016 at midday. Winner will be drawn from all correct entries.Send your answer by email to iloveherring@scandikitchen.co.uk before Tuesday 14th June 2016 at midday. Winner will be drawn from all correct entries.

The usual rules apply. UK residents only. No cheating. Only one winner. No alternative prize and no cash alternative. Over 18s only as this contains alcohol.

Midsummer – like a Swede

June 11, 2015 | 2 Comments

Midsummer – like a Swede

Midsummer in Scandinavia. Think clear blue lakes, rolling green hills and lots of people running around barefoot, singing and dancing. Here’s our little guide about how to be more like a Swede at Midsummer…

When?

Midsummer is the longest day of the year. Swedes (and Finns) celebrate it on the Friday that is closest to actual solstice. This year, Midsummer in Sweden is 19th June, but any Swede abroad will celebrate it on 20th because that is a Saturday, so this is much more convenient.

Most people think this is Swedish Midsummer…

Okay, so this is actually a bit true….

Midsummer is almost as big as Christmas and Eurovision. We take it very seriously. So, if you are planning on joining in, you need to know the basics.

nature

Nature

You need nature. Midsummer is not an indoor celebration. It’s not possible to be authentic celebrating midsummer in a Hackney bedsit. Head to a park near you if you are in the city – such as Hyde Park (like a calling, Swedes randomly seem to gather there most years, although it is not an organised event).

midsommerstand

The Midsummer Pole (Midsommarstången)

Get a few wooden poles, put them in a cross, add two round balls and decorate with flowers. Yes, we know, it is an upside down willy. It is a big fertility ritual, really. Erect your pole in the grass.

It’s basically a Maypole, but we don’t have enough flowers to decorate it in May, so we wait until June.

frogs

Dance like a frog

All Swedes know that the most natural thing in the world is to dance around the big phallic pole, pretending to be a little frog with no ear and no tail. Everybody joins in – old, young, drunk. Get the song here.

The food: Herring

Pack a picnic or make a buffet of the most delicious Scandi traditional foods.

Eating herring is essential. For midsummer, the delicious Matjes herring is the way forward. If anyone offers you something called Surströmming, tell them to go where the sun doesn’t shine: It is fermented herring and it smells like gone-off dog poo (tastes okay, though). A word of advice: If you are going to go down the Surströmming route, be very careful not to get any of the brine on your clothes as your chances of finding mate for the evening will be reduced to below zero. Also, the tin is pressurised, so when you open it, the brine will squirt out. Just say no. If you don’t believe us, watch this clip with our Jonas opening surstromming in Hyde Park.

The food: Strawberries.

You will need to include some strawberries in your picnic, as required by Swedish law (we think). Make a strawberry cake (Recipe here) or just bring a kilos along to share out. Rub yourself with strawberries to increase your overall appeal (this is not a proven method, but it might work, who knows).

FullSizeRender-32

The food: Dill

The secret to making any dish ‘traditionally Swedish’: Just add dill.

Add to potatoes, add to salads, add to crisps and sandwiches. Just add dill. Then add a bit more. You can never have quite enough dill on things. No, you can’t smoke it.

rain Irenegustavsson

The weather

Guarenteed to rain. Then it will be sunny after. Every time.

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Aquavit

Swedes at Midsummer will be consuming a lot of aquavit. It’s a strong alcohol made from grain and flavoured with dill, aniseed and caraway. We drink it in ice cold shots (nubbar), one after the other roughly 1 shot for every 2 beers consumed.

A few things to note: 1) It gets you drunk from the waist down first (i.e. no walking) and 2) It puts you in a slightly amorous mood. Fact: The birth rate in Sweden spikes nine months after Midsummer every year.

Someone will try to offer you the aquavit shot made from wormwood (it’s the one called Bäska Droppar) – they do this because they don’t want to drink it themselves its horrible)  and it is really funny to see non-Swedes try it. Polite refuse and say you know what they’re up to.

Clothing

Ladies tend to wear white dresses or very flowery frocks. A bit like a Laura Ashley showroom, but worn by really pretty people who look like goddesses sent from a different planet to save humanity. Or something.

Men tend to wear what they normally wear to look very Swedish: tight light-coloured trousers, pointy shoes, gelled slicked back hair, a pink shirt and maybe a crown of flowers. Sunglasses essential.

Some people wear traditional dress. If you are not Swedish, it will just make you look like a bit of a twig, so don’t go there. And whatever you do, please, no blue-yellow clothes combos. Bring flags instead. As many as you can carry (this will make you everybody’s best friend).

Drinking songs

There are many, many different drinking songs to learn, but if you make an effort and learn ‘Helan Går’, you’ll be the Måns Zelmerlov hero of the night. Don’t worry too much if you don’t get around to learning it, most people are automatically fluent in Swedish after 2 shots of aquavit. If you overdo the aquavit, you may end up sounding Danish. don’t worry, this is not a bad thing, the Swedes will assume you brought cheap beer and will possibly try to befriend you.


Games people play

Don’t be surprised if you are invited to take part in a tug-of-war, egg and spoon race or a game of ‘kubb’. Kubb is a Swedish game involving some wooden sticks and some very drunk men falling about laughing. As far as we can tell, there are no rules (except the ones the drunk Swedes make up on the day).

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Flowers in your hair

This applies to everybody. We all do it. Old, young, man, woman – get some flowers in your hair. Kudos if you make your own garland, but you can get hold of cheapie artificial ones at most H&M shops. Flower garlands look especially good on bald, middle aged men.

Superstition

Legend says that if you pick seven different wild flowers and put them under your pillow at night, you will dream of the person you will marry. This makes the Tinder-swiping a lot easier going forward if you already know what he or she looks like.

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The hangover

It’s yours to deal with, all alone. Enjoy. Hurdy Gurdy.

Glad Midsommar!

We are selling out ready to pick up Swedish picnic boxes – booking taken up until 3 days before the event, so just click HERE to order. A box for 4 people costs just £50 (£12.50 per person).

Love, The Kitchen People x

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