Mid summer (midsommar) in Sweden is a BIG DEAL. It celebrates the longest day of the year – the summer solstice – (often not on the actual day, but the closest weekend day), signals that almost everyone is now going to be on summer holiday and nothing, absolutely nothing, will get done for the next 4 – 6 weeks. To read more about the history of misommar in Sweden click here.
This year, my boyfriend and I were invited by one of my friends to celebrate midsommar with her and her family at their summer house on Möja, an island in the Stockholm archipelago (in fact, we also joined them last year). Getting out to Möja involves a bus and a boat ride, and on her advice, I took a bus about half an hour early to make sure we got a place on the boat (aforementioned boyfriend decided to road bike the 60km to the boat, just for fun).
Lucky I did! I got to the bus stop, Slussen, with my bag, along with apparently half of the Stockholm population, who incidentally also seemed to want to take the same bus as me… A long queue formed (no nummerlapp/queue ticket numbers here!), and finally the bus arrived and on we piled – in an orderly fashion of course! Because midsommar is such a busy time, extra personnel were working to ensure only the correct number of people boarded each bus. Which to be honest, kind of made sense, when you saw the number and size of bags being dragged along with each person. There simply wasn’t room to fit more than the number of people who could be seated. I took my seat and followed the rules by squashing my bag onto my lap (which I might add had clothes for 2 people in it, thanks to bike riding boyf). An hour later, lap numb, we arrived at the boat jetty.
Some things kind of amuse me. The boat jetty scene was one of them. Despite being an hour early, I was already at risk of not getting on the boat from the size of the queue! But not worry. True Swedish efficiency saved the day, and extra boats were put on to ferry everyone out to their island of choice (with somewhere around 30 000 islands and islets, not everyone was headed for the same place as us).
So we arrived to Möja, just in time to join my friend, her boyfriend, and her parents for a traditional midsommar lunch. Many traditions/celebrations in Sweden revolve around the food, which is the same for many cultures, and having the “correct” food is important. Our lunch consisted of hard bread (knäckebröd), with thinly sliced salmon, a variety of sour cream, chopped chives and dill sauces, and a variety of pickled sill, or herring, laid out on a beautifully set table outside (being outside is another part of this traditional celebration).
And of course, beer and snaps/aquavit to wash it all down!
And finally, a shot of all of us enjoying the fabulous food and alcohol!