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.
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).
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!)
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;
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 email@example.com before Tuesday 14th June 2016 at midday. Winner will be drawn from all correct entries.Send your answer by email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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.