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A table set for midsummer lunch with traditional food. A hand is holding a bottle of snaps and another hand is holding glass of snaps. In the foreground there is a bowl of strawberries.
Midsummer celebration
Midsummer takes place in June and is a celebration of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden. A traditional lunch is served in the garden with pickled herring, new potatoes, cured salmon and drinking snaps followed by a drinking song.
Photo credit: Anna Hållams/

Salmon, snaps and strawberries – how to do Midsummer like a Swede

Midsummer is one of the most important holidays in the Swedish calendar, second only to Christmas. On this day, Swedes eat smoked salmon and herring and drink Aquavit or 'snaps'.

There is an age-old tradition of food and drink that goes hand in hand with the Swedish Midsummer festivities. When it comes to drinking  'snaps', there are countless varieties and flavours. It is important that whenever dill or caraway are used, it becomes Aquavit – a legally protected appellation in Europe. Other popular flavours include elderflower, honey and wormwood. The shots are accompanied by traditional ‘snapsvisor’ songs.

Smoked salmon, pickled herring and gravlax

The Midsummer celebrations, which start with lunch and often continue well into the night and even the next morning, also feature delicacies such as smoked salmon and different kinds of pickled herring ('sill'), as well as grilled meat, gravlax, meatballs and boiled new potatoes with dill. In short, a smorgasbord of Swedish classics. And don't forget to leave room for dessert! The cream-covered strawberry cake is a must on every Midsummer table and gives you a taste of the Swedish summer ahead.

In addition to enjoying the Midsummer food and drink, people wear wreaths of flowers in their hair and families dance, sing, and jump like frogs around a maypole. Never say Swedes don’t know how to throw a party!

Here are some useful recipes for the big day:

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Homemade schnapps

Schnapps has been distilled in Sweden since the late 1400’s. It was first used as a medication and herbs and spices were added to increase the salutary effects. Schnapps became more commonplace in the 1600’s and has been a part of Swedish culinary traditions.

Photo: Tina Stafrén/

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Bottles of home-made hard liquor with different infusions.

Homemade schnapps

Photo: Tina Stafrén/

A woman puts a tray with pickled herring, butter and bread on a table set for midsummer lunch. Next to the tray is a vase with wild flowers.

Midsummer celebration

Photo: Anna Hållams/

Men, women and children are holding hands and dancing, wearing traditional folk clothing.

La Saint-Jean en Dalécarlie

Photo: Per Bifrost/

Midsummer in Dalarna

Midsummer in Dalarna

Photo: Per Bifrost/

A strawberry cake decorated with many small Swedish flags.

Strawberry cake

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/

Article sponsored by

EU and Swedish Board of Agriculture