Midsummer celebrations in the Scandinavian countries are a big deal, so if you can’t join the festivities amidst the fjords, party like it’s midsummer 1999 or 2015 wherever you are.
With the Summer Solstice and the longest day of the year just a few days away, what better way to mark the occasion than by attending a midsummer celebration à la Scandinavians.
While I have a number of Scandi friends, I had next to noll knowledge about their solstice-related traditions until I watched this hilarious video from the Swedish Institute, which taught me quite a bit about the Midsommar part of Swedes’ culture.
The hugely-popular food/travel series, New Scandinavian Cooking, has an episode devoted to midsummer in Sweden — “Midsummer Nights Cream” — during which host Tina Nordstrom travels to the region of Dalarna and prepares several recipes for the occasion, including Blackcurrant Schnapps, Fried Pickled Herring, and Strawberry Cake, amongst others.
(Not to put a damper on things, but in the world of Nordic noir there are dark goings-on during Sweden’s midsummer events, too. Namely murder. Just ask the cops in the Maria Wern episode “The Speechless God.”)
On the other side of the Øresund Bridge, Danes celebrate Sankt Hans Aften (St. John’s Eve) on 23 June, during which the burning of a witch (in effigy) to ward off evil spirits is the highlight of midsummer gatherings.
The bonfire in “Midsummer Eve,” an episode of the Danish sitcom Klown, is rather upsetting for one spectator, but the midsummer party attendees in this video from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark look quite enthralled.
To celebrate Jonsok, let New Scandinavian Cooking‘s Norwegian host, Andreas Viestad, be your culinary guide with “A Midsummer Night’s Meal In the Fjords of Oslo,” in which he prepares Almond Brittle Ice Cream, Roast Beef with Garlic and Ginger, and Shrimp Cocktail with Dill and Mint. (Recipes are here.)
eHow also has a “How to Celebrate a Norwegian Midsummer” tutorial.
Scandinavian midsummer events happen in cities throughout the US. To locate one near you, visit the Nordstjernan website. (Not on the list there is the annual Swedish Midsummer Festival in New York City, held this year on 19 June.) There are various events across the UK, too, of which the largest are in England: the Swedish Midsummer Celebration in London (20 June) and the Scandinavian Midsummer Feast in Somerset (20-21 June 2015).