The Swedes love their Midsummer celebrations and, in fact, it is one of their biggest celebrations of the year. After a long, cold winter, when summer kicks in and the landscape takes on life, the Swedes use every excuse to get outdoors. During the Midsummer celebration, food takes a key role in the day, which happens on the Friday after the summer solstice of June 21.
Before the food, comes the Maypole or midsommarstång, which is erected and dressed on Midsummer Eve. The Maypole is a wooden cross with two circular wreaths hanging from its ends. Lots of greenery decorates the Maypole as well as birch leaves and flowers of all kinds and colors.
They raise the Maypole where the party and the smorgasbord take place, the dancing and singing begins on Midsummer’s Eve and doesn’t end until the next night.
The Midsummer feast usually includes new potatoes with dill, sour cream, and pickled herring as well as the first harvest of the strawberries they serve along with a large plop of whipped cream.
Alcohol is also a tradition to wash the food down, normally it is either beer or wine, but sometimes a shot of alcohol like spiced schnapps helps the celebration of a long life, love, and fertility. Every time they refill the glasses, singing breaks out celebrating the day.
Finally, before going to sleep on Midsummer night, many girls pick seven different types of wildflowers to place under their pillow in order to dream of their future husband.
The traditional herring you eat for midsummer in Sweden is Matjes. Traditionally, this type of herring is eaten with sour cream, chopped chives, new potatoes, and fresh dill. Other flavors also include mustard, onion, and lemon or dill herring.
One pound of cured herring
3 tablespoons sweet mustard
One tablespoon Dijon mustard
One tablespoon brown sugar
One teaspoon sherry vinegar
50 ml olive oil
½ cup dill
Mix the mustard, sherry vinegar, and sugar. Add the olive oil drop by drop as you stir. Chop the shallot and dill and add to the sauce then season with salt and fresh black pepper. Put the herring pieces into the sauce and stir for the sauce to saturate the fish. Let the fish marinate in the sauce for 12 hours or more. Chop the chives into small pieces, sprinkle on top of the herring, and serve with new potatoes or on dark rye bread with sliced boiled eggs.
My own experience this year in Sweden celebrating Midsummer