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Midsummer in Dalarna
Midsummer takes place in June and is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden. A may pole is traditionally created and raised during the day, which people later gather around to dance and sing.
Photo credit: Per Bifrost/imagebank.sweden.se

Midsummer in Dalarna – step by step

Fancy having flowers in your hair, dancing around a pole, singing songs about little frogs, just like the locals? Why not! A true expert shares her traditional Midsummer experience.

Apart from the Christmas season, midsummer’s eve is probably the biggest celebration in the country as every man, woman and child celebrate the longest day of the year. Midsummer’s eve is always celebrated on a Friday between 19 and 25 June. Keep these dates in mind, especially if you are in the region of Dalarna in central Sweden. Midsummer 2022 is on 24 June.

Why Dalarna?

Because no one and no place in Sweden celebrates 'Midsommar' (Midsummer) like Dalarna. And if you think of typical images of Sweden: the cute, brightly painted model wooden horses, the red-painted cottage with white gables and people dancing around the Midsummer maypole – they are all from Dalarna. 

And so is Frida Wallén, a project manager with Visit Sweden in Stockholm who has travelled and worked all around the world. But, as they say: you can take the girl out of Dalarna, but you cannot take Dalarna out of the girl. And if there were a poster girl for Midsummer, it would probably be Frida.

"Everyone gets involved"

Frida is from a village named Östansjö in Dalarna, about 30 minutes by car from the city of Falun:

“Every year I receive a text message from the Midsummer coordinator (yes, there is one) in nearby Svärdsjö asking me if I want to be the flag-bearer of the parish flag in the procession. Of course, I say yes; celebrating Midsummer with family and friends reconnects me to where I come from and my descendants. And I love that everyone gets involved: there’s lunch to be made, coffee, biscuits and buns, flowers to be picked, raffles to be run and it all has to be organised. And with some 5,000 people turning up to celebrate midsummer in the town of Svärdsjö – it’s a big job!”

“Something else I love about Midsummer is its symbolism and meaning; for example, the folk costume I wear tells you which parish I'm from. If I wear a bonnet that means that I'm married, and the flowers that we decorate the garlands with on the maypole must be blue, white and yellow. On Midsummer’s Eve, girls go out to the meadows and, in total silence, collect seven different types of flowers and put them under their pillow before they go to bed. And that night they will dream of the man they will marry. So they say.”

It should be mentioned that Frida’s partner Hampus, who comes from Malmö, joins in the celebrations with her and yes, he dons the traditional costume too. Frida wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Midsummer in Dalarna

Midsummer is a celebration of summer and light, and is one of the most celebrated holidays in Sweden. Some Swedes turn up to the celebrations in their traditional folk costumes to honour their regions.

Photo: Per Bifrost/imagebank.sweden.se

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Midsummer in Dalarna

Photo: Per Bifrost/imagebank.sweden.se

Midsummer in Dalarna

Photo: Per Bifrost/imagebank.sweden.se

Midsummer in Dalarna

Photo: Per Bifrost/imagebank.sweden.se

The big day

According to Frida, midsummer celebrations are highly organised and run to a strict time schedule in Svärdsjö:

“We pick the flowers and the birch leaves that we decorate the maypole with the evening before Midsummer’s Eve, and at 9.00 am the following day we gather to decorate the maypole. The ladies also decorate their hair with flowers before lunch. Lunch is herring and sides, boiled potatoes in dill, baked salmon and moose are prepared. For dessert, we always have fresh strawberries with elderflower ice cream. The moose dish is traditional in our family as my dad and I are both licensed hunters, so we know where it comes from. We have beer and local spiced vodka with lunch and each toast is accompanied by a song. My advice to people is not to do ‘down in ones’ as some of the drinking songs suggest because it is a long day and you should pace yourself! When the long lunch is over a procession of the people involved in the arrangements heads off to raise the maypole at around 5.30 pm. Then the party really gets started with dancing, games and singing – all accompanied by local musicians playing traditional music.”