Living in New York City, we’re blessed with the opportunity to experience the unique cultures and traditions of different countries around the globe — but have you ever wondered how authentic these festivals and celebrations really are? Read on to find out what our resident Swedish beauty Maja Brodin has to say about the annual Swedish Midsummer Festival!
Do you have this celebration in Sweden as well? What does it mean to celebrate?
Yes! It happens one day every year between June 19th-25th. It’s a feast to celebrate summer and the longest day of the year because the sun almost never goes down so the night is very short.
What is a little-known fact about Midsummer?
If you don’t already have a partner, it’s tradition to pick flowers and put them under your pillow before you go to bed at Midsummer night. You pick seven different flowers from seven different meadows, and when you go to sleep, you will dream about the person who you will marry to in the future!
What do you expect to see at the festival?
I’m expecting to see a lot of people with flowers and wreaths in their hair. Of course the round dance and typical games like “små grodorna” around the Maypole with Swedish summer songs in the background!
In terms of food, I expect to see herring (a kind of fish that’s popular in Swedan) with sour cream, chives and fresh potatoes with dill pickles. For dessert, strawberries is a must –usually strawberry cake with whipped cream. While eating, we sometimes take a break to sing a snapsvisa (a short and funny drinking song) and take a shot of snaps or nubbe (Swedish vodka shot).
What do you miss the most back home?
My family, friends and the Swedish countryside. Even the rainy midsummer weather — it’s always rainy at midsummer.
Maja brought Alisa Ahmann to tag along, who showed some appreciation for the knäckebröd!
What’s your favorite Swedish invention ever?
Fika (a Swedish concept of having coffee with friends/family) and Chokladboll (chocolate ball). I also really like IKEA, it makes me feel like home to see their furnitures and walk around in the store.
“To play the wheel is one of the most common things at this festival. You can win different things but usually candy or food!”
What was most accurate about the NYC version of the festival? What was a little different?
I actually think they have made a really good version of the Swedish Midsummer. The music and songs, the dances, games, decorations and food were all what I used to experience in Sweden. The biggest difference is of course the environment — in Sweden almost everybody celebrates Midsummer on the countryside, and we meet all together on a big meadow field to sing, dance, play games and have picnic on the grass. It felt strange to be in a small park in a big city like New York, with the ocean and the Statue of Liberty in the background.
How has Swedish music evolved compared to what you’re hearing at the festival?
The music in Sweden today has been influenced by a lot of the other countries and cultures. The music we hear today at the festival is only played during these kinds of events to maintain the tradition and legacy of Swedish music.