Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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the summer solstice

Today is the summer solstice! Meaning it is the longest day of the year, when we get the most hours of sunlight here in the Northern hemisphere. Despite the fact that today is the longest day of the year, here in Sweden we celebrated two days ago, on Friday. Unlike Friday it’s actually pretty sunny today! Much warmer as well. For the first time this year summer is at our doorstep. Hopefully soon to actually breach the threshold.

I am very ready for summer’s arrival. Not only because of the excellent festivities in Sweden for midsummer, as cataloged in 2012 and 2014. But also for the cake.

strawberry cake

Kidding, summer isn’t just about strawberry cake (though would it be so bad if it were?). I’m looking forward to long summer nights, sunny summer days, and wearing sunglasses daily. Basically, I’m looking forward to the sun. Me and the sun are tight. Except when it’s fire rays burn blisters into my skin. Then we’re not so tight. Definitely not doing that this summer. Stay tuned to see if I’m successful in that endeavor.

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sun party

I had planned a sun party. It was going to be March 19th, and it was going to be beautiful. We were to celebrate the return of the sun. Or that day where Sweden gets more sun than my hometown of Boston. Not to brag or anything, but I was totally trying to brag.

You see, last winter I was missing the sun. It was very grey and gloomy for a long time. We didn’t get much snow up here in The Great White North. This past winter it was just The North. Nothing white around here, as you can see from the pictures from January.

gloom

gloom

Then March rolled around. And you know what?! It wasn’t sunny!! I was very angry with the Sun Gods. This is why they got no celebration. At least not until Midsummer rolled around. You just can’t help celebrating the light on the longest day of the year. I’m working on my forgiveness, and the Sun Gods are working on making it up to me. It has now been sunny and 30 degrees for days. I’m almost pleased.

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Just waiting until about September to start singing my praises. Can’t get too ahead of one’s self.

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midsummer

Not to be confused with my earlier post, midsommar, where all your questions are answered about how to successfully celebrate Midsummer in Sweden.

All of that information still stands, and I highly recommend reading up before you continue with this post.

Before I continue with this post, though, I have some good news! Remember number 12 on my 25 before 25 list? (If you don’t read up by clicking here). Well, now I have an even cooler camera!

That’s right, for the big 2-5 Evelina got me a super-wicked-awesome camera! Which is what brings us to Midsummer. Since midsummer falls after my birthday by a few days, I had this bad boy up and running.

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Which means I could take some sweet pics of the action. For your enjoyment:

Midsummer 2014

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midsommar

It’s official! Midsummer has come and gone in the wonderful land of Scandinavia. (As well as, y’know, the northern hemisphere.) The big day was the Friday before last. Festivities, cheer, and spirits ran high. It was a magical day where the sun never set. Pretty much. Seeing as today is the 4th of July, which means outdoor adventures, grilling, cake, and fireworks in the good ‘ol US of A, I thought I’d show you what we do in Sweden in the summer time to have a good time. (Fireworks just don’t work as well when it doesn’t get dark.) As this was my third consecutive midsummer spent in Sweden, I now know all of the ingredients necessary to make the most of your long, long day. I will now share them with you. The following steps need to be followed in order to have a successful midsummer. (Midsommar in Swedish.) The order is not required, only recommended.

  1. Head out to the country house, this part is key, because all the best midsummer parties are in the country. (I am entirely making this up.) Just be sure to have a high flying Swedish flag somewhere near by, and you’re bound to find the fun.
  2. Fika. A Swedish word for having coffee and cake. Or cookies. Or cupcakes. Best case scenario? All of the above.
  3. Play kubb. A Swedish game where you throw wooden pieces across the playing area trying to knock over the wooden pieces belonging to the other team. You win when you knock all of theirs over, and then the king. The king stands in the middle. Bonus: win.
  4. Make flower crowns. A long standing tradition on midsummer is to make flower crowns. Boys, girls, young, and old gather flowers from far and wide to create a crown. It’s required wear to the crown to the raising of the maypole, so be sure to complete this step early in the day.
  5. Lunch. A very important step. Very. Important. This is when you eat all sorts of wonderful Swedish food. Swedish meatballs, Janssons, red beet salad, boiled eggs, sil, sausage, and vegetables. (Vegetables optional.) If you’re lucky you’ll get a lovely day of sun, and can eat outside in the bright sunshine. Luckily, this was one such day.
  6. Optional: get dressed in traditional Swedish garb. The photo shown is if Evelina’s Aunt Pia. The pattern for this dress is from the 15th century. However, in the 15th century they would not have been able to achieve that color red dye, because there is nothing in Sweden that could create that dye. Another option is to be a ridiculously cute Swedish child with bright blonde hair and a flowy white dress.
  7. Head on down to the maypole raising. Where “strong men” are asked to assist in the raising, and thereafter children and parents dance around in a circle. It’s magical. And you get treats for participating.
  8. If you’re feeling lucky go ahead and buy a raffle ticket. There are a number of items for children to win, as well as two prizes for the adults. Age appropriate prizes, like water guns and alcohol. (In a perfect world you’d get both.)
  9. If you’ve got a sweet tooth try your hand at the chocolate wheel. At 2 SEK a turn you can afford to play until you win!! Hopefully you win big and get Toffifee or Tobelerone. Not bad. (Although your chances are…)
  10. The next part is key in working up a good appetite for step 10. As well as legally required. Swimming!! So get over the 18 degree (centigrade) water and jump in!! As a former lifeguard I feel the need to ask you to please be sure to swim responsibly, and ensure that life saving devices are at hand.
  11. Dinner. This means breaking out the grill, and more outdoors eating. Essentially the goal on midsummer is to be outside for the entire day. Now’s the time for meat on the grill, potatoes al gratin, and salad. After dinner it’s cake time. Where the traditional midsummer strawberry cake is revealed. All good holidays include cake, I always say. (I also say all good days include cake.)
  12. What better way to continue the evening than with dancing!! Head on up to the dance floor and show your moves!
  13. Stroll on over to the waterfront to catch the beautiful sunset, that will seem to last for ages. Because it will.
  14. Then it’s time to head back over for some games and dancing! Try your luck at some throwing darts or BB gun shooting! Just make sure you haven’t had “too many” to be a good shot. Or ensure that you have, so that you’re a good shot. It goes both ways. Especially for that hag in front of me in the BB gun line. I have yet to hit the target (in three years), and her worst shot was an 8, and she’d “NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE!!” Take it down a decibel, lady, no one cares. (Read: I care very much, and am very bitter.) Then, hit the dance floor and break it down. The chocolate wheel is open all night if you’ve got a craving, and the near by swings are good fun for all ages.
  15. The last and final step is to return home and try to sleep. Even though the sky looks like photo 24…bright.

I hope these steps will ensure your next midsummer will be as memorable as mine was. Hejdå!

P.S. Happy 4th everybody!!


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let the countdown begin

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This picture was taken at 10:40pm CEST (Central European Summer Time). As the days get longer and longer, and I miraculously need less and less sleep. Because the sun shines into my eyes at ungodly hours of the morning. We count down the days until midsummer. Or, as we say in Sweden, midsommar. (Now you can all see why it’s taken me so long to learn Swedish.) Only a few short weeks until the wonderful celebration is to commence!! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you all about it when it does.