Happy Swedish Midsummer!
Swedish Midsummer is a special event that commemorates the arrival of summer in Scandinavia– an especially happy time in a part of the world known for its long, dark winters. Midsummer’s Eve is one of the most important days of the year in Sweden, rivaling Christmas in terms of its commemoration and import.
On Friday, June 24, the annual Swedish Midsummer Festival will once again take place in Battery Park City in downtown Manhattan. At this unique celebration, adults and children come together to picnic in the grass, decorate the midsummer pole, make flower wreaths, play traditional games and dance to authentic fiddle music.
Traditionally, Swedes would celebrate Midsummer on June 24 (the feast day of St. John the Baptist), but in 1952 the Swedish Parliament decided that Midsummer should always be celebrated on a weekend. As a result, the observance of Midsummer varies between June 19 and 26.
In many countries the summer solstice is celebrated with huge outdoor bonfires and a traditional Midsummer pole (also known as a maypole) that is decorated with greenery and flowers. The concept came to Sweden in the late Middle Ages from Germany, where tradition held that a pole should be decorated with leaves and raised on May 1 (hence the name). Because spring comes later to Sweden than it does in Germany, it was difficult for Swedes to find enough greenery to adorn the pole on May 1, so the tradition was moved to Midsummer. (According to Real Scandinavia, some sources also attribute the perpetuation of the term majstång, or maypole, to the archaic Swedish word maja, meaning “to decorate with green leaves.”)
Food stands at this weekend’s program in New York will offer delicacies from some of New York’s finest Swedish restaurants and food purveyors, including FIKA, The Shop at Scandinavia House, Nordic Preserves, Smörgås Chef/Crepes du Nord, Sockerbit Sweet & Swedish, Red Rooster, and Gigino’s.
The Swedish Midsummer Festival is presented by Battery Park City Parks Conservancy and co-hosted by the Consulate General of Sweden in New York, who will also host Nordic Jazz Festival later this year in Washington, D.C. The event is part of the #SwedenInThePark concept, a series of outdoor events showcasing Swedish culture in wonderful gardens.
Swedish Midsummer Festival
Friday, June 24, 5-8 pm
Robert F. Wagner Park
Battery Park City in lower Manhattan
Follow along at the event hashtag #SwedenInThePark and also #GardenCollage to show us your best flower wreaths!
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