15 juli 2010

59. Folklore

Midsommar! Den infaller väl alltid i Juni eller?

Midsummer may simply refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place around June 24 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures.

In modern Sweden, Midsummer's Eve and Midsummer's Day (Midsommarafton and Midsommardagen) were formerly celebrated on 23 June and 24 June, but since 1953 the celebration has been moved to the Friday and Saturday between 19 June and 26 June. It is one of the most important holidays of the year in Sweden, and probably the most uniquely Swedish in the way it is celebrated. The main celebrations take place on the Friday, and the traditional events include raising and dancing around a huge maypole. Before the maypole is raised, greens and flowers are collected and used to cover the entire pole.
Raising and dancing around a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång) is an activity that attracts families and many others. People dancing around the pole listen to traditional music and some even wear traditional folk costumes.

In addition, many wear crowns made of wild springs and wildflowers on their heads. The year's first potatoes, Soused herring, Chives, Sour Cream, Beer, Snaps and the first strawberries of the season are on the menu. Drinking songs Snapsvisor are also important at this feast, and many drink heavily. When Sweden got its National day (6th june), discussions were held about making Midsummer the Swedish national day because of the strong civil celebration on this day.

Because Midsummer was thought to be one of the times of the year when magic was strongest, it was considered a good night to perform rituals to look into the future. Traditionally, young people pick bouquets of seven or nine different flowers and put them under their pillow in the hope of dreaming about their future spouse. In the past it was believed that herbs picked at Midsummer were highly potent, and water from springs could bring good health.

In earlier times, small spires wrapped in greens were erected; this probably predates the maypole tradition, which is believed by many to have come from the continent in the Middle Ages. Others argue that some form of Midsummer pole occurred in Sweden during the pre-Christian times, and was a phallic fertility symbol, meant to impregnate the earth, but as there were no records from those times it cannot be proven, and this idea might just be a modern interpretation of the pole's form. The earliest historical mention of the maypole in Sweden is from the Middle Ages. Midsummer was, however, linked to an ancient fertility festival which was adapted into St. John's Day by the church, even though it retained many pagan traditions, as the Swedes were slow to give up the old heathen customs. The connection to fertility is naturally linked to the time of year. Many young people became passionate at Midsummer, and this was accepted, probably because it resulted in more childbirths in March which was a good time for children to be born.

With help from From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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