Today is the longest day, and the first day of Summer in the northern hemisphere. In Gävle, this means the sun will officially rise at 3:19 AM and set at 22:27. However, the sun just dips below the horizon and there is twilight during the intervening time. I am a summer person and normally like the heat, but I am satisfied with the weather, it doesn’t rain much and there is lots of daylight so it feels like we get a lot done. In November after dinner it has been dark so long I feel ready for bed at 8:00 PM, but now it feels hard to believe it when it is 11:00PM. It is not really warm, but warm enough for us to go for a paddle and bike ride home without changing, warm enough to hang out after running for a stretch and chat with our friends; these are all things we could not do in April.

A midsommarstång in Stockholm on Skeppsholmen. There are substantial regional variations.

The winter is so dark in Sweden and the summer so short that people really do their best to enjoy every minute of it. The midsommar festival is one of the most important days of the year, more important than Christmas for some families. The celebration is on the Friday and Saturday after the 21 of June. There is an exodus from the cities and everyone goes to their summer cottage (or a friend’s if they are not lucky enough to have their own). Most communities will raise a midsummer pole, people will sing and dance around it, then everyone eats new potatoes, Swedish strawberries, pickled herring and dill and sour cream on crisp bread.

We had thought about going to Dalarna (‘the heartland’), where the most popular and traditional midsommer festivals are. However, now that we are going to Hong Kong we will save some money on accommodations and also spend some time that weekend paddling… and maybe exploring the river North of hydro dams.

In Dalarna they love midsummer poles so much that they keep them up all year round. This one has some very dried flowers and a dusting of snow.

Of course, we will still attend the midsommerstang raising (pole dance?) since there are two going on within a bike ride of our place. We will also enjoy a picnic, since we have already stocked up on new potatoes and herring (and bug spray, also a requirement). We will make some posts about that too.

This was in the Nordiskamuset by the midsummer traditions display. Rock on, Sweden! Click on the image to enlarge if you can't see it