Monday, 28 June 2010
Usually, on 21 June, I celebrate Fête de la musique. Originally, it's a French music festival but I believe it is now international and known as World Music Day. Anyone, from amateur to professional singers and musicians, can perform freely in the streets during the whole night to celebrate the summer solstice. I have celebrated it in the past in N'Djaména, Paris and Montpellier (last year), but I have never had so much fun as in Toulouse!
This year it was the first time that I was in Sweden for Midsommar. It is not celebrated on 21 June but on the Friday and Saturday between 19 and 26 June. Although it is common to all European countries, this holiday is unique to Sweden in that it's the second most important celebration of the year and that it is still regarded as a secular/pagan tradition. Sweden is, by the way, the only Scandinavian country where Midsommar has kept its original name. Elsewhere, it's known as St John's day.
The main celebration take place on Friday (Midsommarafton). The day is spend collecting greens and flower to cover the maypole around which people will later dance and for crowns. It is traditional to eat new potatoes, herring, chives, sour cream and the first strawberries of the season. People also tend to drink heavily.
According to an old Swedish tradition, unmarried girls should before bedtime on midsummer's eve pick seven kinds of flowers and jump over seven fences (or go trough seven doors). If they perform this ritual correctly (which also involves being silent and putting the flowers under their pillows) they will dream about the boy they will marry. I actually followed the tradition and I can testify of its validity!
This video will give you an idea (although slightly distorted) of Midsommar.