I am currently in Sweden and have spent a very lovely day celebrating midsummer here.
"Midsommar" is a tradition widely celebrated in Sweden with parties that include dancing and singing around a midsummer pole (midsommarstång) - a type of maypole which is traditionally in the shape of a cross with two wreaths hanging from either side of the horizontal arms of the cross. Although we did not see one of these today since we didn't go out into the countryside, we did observe another midsummer tradition. After a relaxing walk through another part of town, we came to some fields by a forest where we spent an hour or so picking as many different coloured wild flowers as we could find. Afterwards we found a cozy spot on a hillside by the forest where we sat down to make a midsummer wreath (midsommarkrans) for my hair! Below I have included a tutorial, but first, look how beautiful this one is! And in my own country's colours!
1. Pick a large bunch of flowers with as many different kinds as you can find. I also used reeds and some different kinds of grass to make it look a little more interesting.
2. Gather some birch-shoots. These need to be bent round into a circle large enough to sit on the crown of your head. Twist and twine the shoots around one another (use 3-4) to ensure they stay put and, if necessary, tie the ends together when forming the ring using thread, wire or string.
3. Arrange the flowers into smaller bunches and cut the stalks down until they are just a few inches tall.
4. Secure the smaller bunches to the wreath, placing one behind the other, fastening each bunch with a little thread. Be generous with the amount of flowers in order to build the wreath up into a pretty arrangement.
5. Once you have fastened the bunches all the way round the wreath, check to see if there are any gaps that need filling. If you have any flowers left over, thread them into wherever you can find thread. It will not only make the wreath appear fuller but will also cover any threads that are still visible.
Mine ended up enormous, so perhaps it is better to trim it a little so that it looks neater!
Swedes usually end the day with a surprisingly simple meal of pickled herring and new potatoes before setting about dancing and singing into the night, which at this time of the year, never quite makes it to darkness!
In what I think is a rather lovely and romantic tradition, many Swedish girls on their way home from the nights' celebrations would pick seven flowers of different varieties to place under their pillows in order to dream of the man they would someday marry. Who would you hope to dream of?