If you’re wondering why so many Swedes celebrate their birthdays in March, then look no further than tomorrow’s Midsummer celebrations.
While marking the solstice here in the UK is a relatively muted occasion, marked most famously by pagan groups gathering at Stonehenge as the sun rises, many Northern European countries mark Midsummer’s day with more relish. Bonfires – perhaps the most elemental of celebrations, dating back as they do to Neolithic times – are lit across the Nordic countries (as they are, in fact, in Cornwall).
For Swedes, however, Midsummer celebrations come second only to Christmas, with many people celebrating from dawn till late into the night. This is a day to wonder at the glorious bounties of nature: from the greens and flowers which decorate every inch of the maypoles, to the first potatoes and strawberries of the summer, the nation’s ubiquitous pickled herring and ice-cold vodkas, to music and dance.
And so into the night, and the Swedish proverb ‘Midsummer night is not long but it gets many cradles rocking.’ The more romantic tradition of midsummer involves single young ladies placing seven (or nine, it really depends on which tradition you follow) flowers under their pillows. The saying goes that they will then dream of their future husband.
So, as we bid farewell to Wallander, we’d like to wish everyone in Sweden Glad Midsommar!